Man charged in boat crash that killed New Jersy college student

Man charged in boat crash that killed New Jersy college student, police say. An 18-year-old man was charged with vehicular homicide in a June boat crash that killed a college student and left four others hurt in Toms River, authorities said Thursday.

Juan Fernandez II also faces charges of strict liability vehicular homicide and hindering, New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan said in a joint statement with Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer, whose office was prosecuting the case.

Fernandez was driving a 2014 Bennington Pontoon boat in the Barnegat Bay when he struck Intracoastal Waterway Marker #26 head-on shortly after 1 a.m. June 13, according to the State Police.

Corey Molinari, 19, of Whippany, was hurt in the crash and flown to a local hospital, where he died, police said.

After the wreck, Fernandez navigated to Antiqua Avenue and met Toms River emergency responders, according to authorities. He initially claimed there were six people on the boat, but investigators found there were nine occupants, including three who were let off and two who were ejected.

In a statement, State Police said a toxicology report on blood drawn from Fernandez the morning of the wreck and other evidence led them to file charges. Authorities did not detail the results of the report.

Fernandez, of Towaco, was arrested Wednesday in Boonton and sent to the Ocean County jail ahead of a detention hearing, police said. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.

Molinari, a 2020 graduate of Whippany Park High School, attended Seton Hall University where he studied economics, according to his obituary. He was remembered as a car enthusiast who enjoyed playing baseball and football.

“Corey loved to be on the water and caring for his boat,” his obituary stated.

He was also a member of the Spartan Powerboat Club at the Jersey Shore.

A State Police spokesman previously said none of the other injuries were considered life-threatening.

Hoboken water customers will receive a seven-day credit on their quarterly water bill, and Jersey City is in talks for a similar deal after going without clean water for 72 hours, officials in both cities said Thursday.

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla said the credit, which is being funded initially by the city, is “due to the inconvenience and cost associated with the boil water advisory” that started Thursday night after Tropical Storm Ida and wasn’t lifted until Sunday evening.

The advisory came about when, according to a Suez official, “a two-foot hole was blown through a major transmission line” that supplied water to Hoboken and Jersey City.

Suez, which manages the water in both cities, came under fire for its response to the storm that dumped roughly eight inches of rain on Jersey City and Hoboken. Residents there complained about the length of time it took to get clean water running again, as well as delays in getting water tankers to locations across the two cities.

“We are currently working out the billing specifics, but the city will be made whole through a Hurricane Ida support contract credit by SUEZ,” Hoboken spokeswoman Marilyn Baer said. “The mayor was able to work collaboratively with Suez to secure the credit for all water ratepayers.”

Fifth Ward Councilman Phil Cohen would prefer the credit came from Suez directly, “but I do think that we have more control over the city’s resources than SUEZ’s and if this is something we can do for our residents I think that’s a good thing to do.”

Richard Henning, a senior vice president at Suez, said the credit is part of a donation related to Tropical Storm Ida relief that is given to Hoboken on behalf of Suez. He is uncertain of the amount, but he imagines it is a “good amount.”

Jersey City, meanwhile, is “looking for something from Suez directly and we are having those conversations currently,” city spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione said.

On Monday, Mayor Steve Fulop said canceling the private water service contract with Suez — it was renewed in 2018 for nine more years — is an option for the city. But Ward A Councilwoman Denise Ridley said the city should do its homework first.

“I am not at the point of cancellation right now until I can actually know what the other options are,” Ridley said. “What I would really like to see (Suez) do … is improve their communication and if they can provide a liaison that communicates with the community and communicates with the council directly, that would be a great benefit.”

Councilman at Large Rolando Lavarro and Ward E Councilman James Solomon want an investigation to take place into Suez’s response. while Journal Square Council Rich Boggiano said the city should think about handling the water system itself.

“We are certainly willing to go over all the pertinent facts and the pertinent timeline that occurred over the last weekend with the city administration, with the mayor and council and certainly with the JCMUA … and share everything amongst that review,” Henning said. He noted that a normal boil water advisory is 48 hours, but the state Department of Environmental Protections asked for two sets of clean samples in this instance.

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