Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on June 4, 2021, Ashley Watkins, 30, of Eatontown, was charged with Vehicular Homicide in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5, relative to a motor vehicle crash that occurred in Brick Township on May 9, 2021 – resulting in the death of Nancy Penrod, 78, of Brick.  Watkins was also charged with Strict Liability Vehicular Homicide in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.3a and Assault by Auto in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1c(2), and was issued motor vehicle summonses for Driving While Intoxicated in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, Reckless Driving in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-96, and Failure to Maintain Lane in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-88.

On May 9, 2021, at approximately 9:45 a.m., Officers of the Brick Township Police Department responded to the intersection of Lanes Mill Road and Greenwood Loop for a serious motor vehicle crash with injuries.  Through investigation, Officers determined that a 2011 Toyota Camry operated by Watkins was traveling southwest on Lanes Mill Road when she crossed the center line of the roadway and  collided head-on with a 2014 Dodge Caravan, operated by Terry Penrod, 78, of Brick.  Mr. Penrod’s wife, Nancy Penrod, was a passenger in the vehicle.  Mr. Penrod sustained a broken leg and was transported to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune for treatment.  Ms. Penrod was transported to Ocean Medical Center in Brick Township, where she succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced deceased.

Watkins sustained minor injuries from the crash, and was taken to Ocean Medical Center for treatment.  While at Ocean Medical Center, Watkins consented to a draw of her blood.  On June 2, 2021, the toxicology results of Watkins blood-draw revealed the presence of fentanyl, diphenhydramine (Benadryl), and marijuana in her blood stream, which rendered her unfit to safely operate a motor vehicle at the time of the crash on May 9th.  On June 4, 2021, Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit and Officers from the Brick Township Police Department arrested Watkins at her residence without incident.  She was processed at Brick Township Police Headquarters, and transported to the Ocean County Jail where she is presently lodged pending a detention hearing.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Advocacy Unit, Brick Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, for their cooperative efforts in connection with this investigation.

The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.  R.P.C. 3.6(b)(6).