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Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on May 3, 2024, Angel Garcia-Rodriguez, 26, of Lakewood, was sentenced by the Honorable Kenneth T. Palmer, J.S.C., to five years New Jersey State Prison as a result of his previously entered guilty plea to Leaving the Scene of a Motor Vehicle Crash Resulting in a Death, in connection with a motor vehicle crash that occurred in the early morning hours of July 22, 2023, in Lakewood Township.  Garcia-Rodriguez pled guilty to the charge before Judge Palmer on March 8, 2024.


On July 22, 2023, at approximately 2:25 a.m., Officers from the Lakewood Township Police Department responded to the area of James Street for a report of a serious motor vehicle crash.  Responding Officers found that a 2007 Honda Civic had struck a utility pole.  Officers also discovered that the driver of the vehicle had fled the scene of the crash, and found a critically injured male victim in the passenger seat of the vehicle.  The male victim was taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, where he ultimately succumbed to his injuries.


An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit-Vehicular Homicide Unit and Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau revealed that the Honda Civic was traveling westbound on James Street when it lost directional control and struck the utility pole on the passenger side door. The investigation further revealed that Garcia-Rodriguez was the operator of the vehicle at the time of the crash, and that he had fled the scene before police arrived.  Garcia-Rodriguez was ultimately located at a residence in Lakewood and taken into custody without incident.  Garcia-Rodriguez was then transported to the Ocean County Jail, where he has been detained since July 22, 2023.


Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Assistant Prosecutor Alyssa Mandara who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit-Vehicular Homicide Squad, Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Lakewood Township Police Department, Toms River Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, for their combined assistance in connection with this investigation leading to Garcia-Rodriguez’s guilty plea, and now his state prison sentence.