A Garden State Parkway accident that that killed a Middletown father of five in April has led to the indictment of a Jackson man on a vehicular homicide and other charges, Monmouth County Prosecutor Peter Warshaw announced Monday.
Eric Pereira, 20, was intoxicated, speeding and using a cellphone when he smashed into the rear of a southbound van, leading to the death of 43-year-old Kevin Donnelly, Warshaw’s office alleges.
From the prosecutor:
A joint investigation conducted by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the New Jersey State Police revealed that, on April 2 at approximately 11:00 a.m., Pereira was driving southbound in the local lanes of the Garden State Parkway at a high rate of speed while intoxicated. Thereafter, Pereira struck a van from the rear, causing the van to collide with a guardrail, overturn and skid into the express lanes. As the van entered the express lanes, it struck another vehicle traveling southbound. The driver of the van, identified as Kevin Donnelly, 43, of Middletown, was pronounced dead at the scene. Donnelly’s passengers, fiancée Erin Small, 43, of Middletown, and her cousin Kenneth MacKenzie, 48, of Jersey City, were both injured during the collision. Additionally, the driver of the vehicle struck by the van, Keith Wegle, 49, of Toms River, also sustained injuries. Ms. Small was airlifted to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital while Mr. MacKenzie and Mr. Wegle were transported to local hospitals.
Subsequent investigation of the incident revealed that Pereira was operating his motor vehicle with blood alcohol content in excess of the 0.08% legal limit and that he was speeding at the time of the collision. On April 25, Pereira was arrested and charged with Vehicular Homicide and Assault by Auto. He was released on $200,000 with a no 10% option by the Honorable Thomas F. Scully, P.J.Cr.
If convicted of second degree Vehicular Homicide, Pereira faces a maximum potential sentence of 10 years in State prison, and would be required to serve 85% before being eligible for parole pursuant to the No Early Release Act. If convicted of third degree Assault by Auto, Pereira faces a maximum potential sentence of 5 years in State prison for each of the three counts. Pereira was also charged with Driving an Unregistered Motor Vehicle; Operation of a
Motor Vehicle While in Possession of Drugs; Unsafe Lane Change; Reckless Driving; Use of Wireless Telephone While Driving; Underage Driving While Intoxicated; and Driving While Intoxicated. Pereira was also required to surrender his drivers license to the New Jersey State Police.