Somerset man charged in fatal vehicle crash in Old Bridge following police pursuit


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OLD BRIDGE – A 19-year-old Somerset man has been charged in connection with a fatal vehicle crash following a police pursuit, according to Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Old Bridge Acting Police Chief Donald F. Fritz Jr.

Samuel Villar was charged with one count of first-degree aggravated manslaughter, four
counts of second-degree aggravated assault and one count of second-degree eluding, one count of second-degree employing a juvenile, and one count of third-degree theft, according to a press release through the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office on Nov. 10.

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The Old Bridge Police Department responded to a crash that occurred near the intersection of Spring Valley Road and Route 9 South at approximately 2:14 a.m. on Nov. 9.

As a result of the crash, Arturo Tlapa Luna, 33, of Freehold, was pronounced deceased on scene. Other members of his family who were in the vehicle were transported to a local
hospital for treatment of their injuries, according to the press release.

The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office initially issued a news release following the crash stating it was investigating the incident as per a 2019 state law that requires the Attorney General’s Office to conduct investigations of a person’s death that occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody.

After a collaborative investigation conducted by the Old Bridge Police Department, the Marlboro Police Department, and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, it was determined that the vehicle that caused the crash had been stolen from New Brunswick on Oct. 23.

The stolen vehicle was utilized to travel to Marlboro where the suspects were allegedly attempting to burglarize cars. Thereafter, residents observed the suspects and notified police. The police responded and a Marlboro police officer initiated a pursuit with the suspects charged which ended in Old Bridge.

Villar is presently lodged at the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center in North Brunswick pending a pretrial detention hearing in Superior Court.

In addition, a 17-year-old juvenile male has been taken into custody and charged with an act of juvenile delinquency for offenses which if committed by an adult would constitute as one count of third-degree burglary, one count of fourth-degree joyriding, and one count of third-degree conspiracy to commit burglary, according to the press release.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Jonathan Berman of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-745-4328.

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