A Camden man accused of driving on the wrong side of the road while drunk was arraigned yesterday on charges that he caused the death of his passenger and another driver in Chesilhurst.
Erick Figueroa, 24, of North 34th Street, was rolled into court in a wheelchair by sheriff's deputies, his right leg amputated at the knee.
He is accused of causing the death of his friend Jonathan L. Jenkins, 22, of Pine Hill, who was in the passenger seat of Figueroa's Toyota, and of Stanley Ellis, 86, of Atco, whose Buick Century was struck head-on.
Figueroa spoke only when Superior Court Judge Thomas A. Brown Jr. addressed bail, which the judge continued at $200,000, noting that despite Figueroa's disability he remained a flight risk.
"These are serious charges," the judge said, adding that Figueroa was facing up to 20 years in prison in a case with a high likelihood of conviction.
About 9 a.m. Sept. 12, Figueroa was driving west in the eastbound lane of the White Horse Pike in Chesilhurst, said Assistant Camden County Prosecutor Mary Alison Albright.
A witness told police that she had seen a black Toyota traveling in the wrong lane shortly before she came upon the crash, in which the two vehicles were demolished, at Cleveland Avenue.
When police and medics arrived, all three men were unresponsive but alive.
Figueroa was rushed to Cooper Medical Center, where he has received extensive medical treatment for his injuries, including the amputation.
Jenkins was pronounced dead the next morning. Ellis died several days later, Albright said.
Albright said tests showed Figueroa had a blood-alcohol content of 0.09, above the legal definition of drunken driving. There was also evidence of PCP use.
When interviewed by authorities, Albright said, Figueroa said he remembered driving his Toyota, but couldn't recall the accident.
Albright requested a high bail, noting Figueroa's criminal history. In December 2004, he was placed on probation for two convictions - one for assaulting a police officer and the other as an accomplice to an escape attempt.
"Given what his prior convictions are, I think he's at risk to flee," Albright said, acknowledging Figueroa's poor physical condition but adding that he could flee with assistance.