A Monmouth County Grand Jury voted Monday to indict a Jackson Township man for one count of Vehicular Homicide, a second degree crime, and three counts of Assault by Auto, a third degree crime, according to Monmouth County Prosecutor Peter Warshaw, Jr.
According to the Prosecutor's Office, Eric Pereira, 20, was involved in a three car collision on April 2 at about 11 a.m. near milepost 120 on the Garden State Parkway. The accident left one dead and three injured.
The Prosecutor's Office and the New Jersey State Police conducted a joint investigation of the accident.
According to their investigation, Pereira was driving southbound in the local lanes of the Parkway above the legal speed limit with a blood alcohol content in excess of the 0.08% legal limit when he struck a van from the rear.
The collision caused the van to hit the 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.
The driver of the vehicle struck by the van, Keith Wegle, 49, of Toms River, also sustained injuries, according to the Prosecutor's Office.
Small was airlifted to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital while MacKenzie and Wegle were transported to local hospitals.
On April 25, Pereira was arrested and charged with Vehicular Homicide and Assault by Auto, according to the Prosecutor's Office. He was released on $200,000 bail with no 10% option by the Honorable Thomas F. Scully, P.J.Cr.
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. He was required to surrender his driver’s license to the New Jersey State Police.
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.
The Grand Jury's vote does not determine guilt or innocence, only that charges may be brought against the people named in the indictment.