A South Jersey police officer who crashed his car into a utility pole while off duty last month, killing his female passenger, has been charged with one count of vehicular homicide, authorities said Thursday.
An investigation revealed that Justin Rodriguez, 25, had consumed an excessive amount of alcohol in the early-morning Sept. 23 crash in Florence Township, Burlington County, that claimed the life of Ariana Williams, 27, said Burlington County Prosecutor Robert Bernardi and Florence Police Chief John Bunce in a joint statement.
Rodriguez, of Burlington Township, was driving his personal Acura Integra when he lost control of the car at about 2:10 a.m. on West Front Street and slammed into a utility pole.
Williams, of Florence, was pronounced dead at the scene. Rodriguez was ejected from the vehicle and was taken to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton, from where he was discharged three days later.
Rodriguez has been employed as a police officer in Burlington Township for 11 months, but was not on duty at the time of the crash. He has been placed on administrative leave since the date of the crash and is now suspended without pay, pending the outcome of the criminal case, the police department said.
He was taken into custody Thursday morning at the Prosecutor's Office and was released after posting $50,000 full bail, set by Superior Court Judge Philip Haines. The case will now be sent to a Burlington County grand jury to be considered for indictment, authorities said.