Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced on that June 22, 2022, Juan Fernandez, II, 19, of Towaco, New Jersey, was indicted by a Grand Jury sitting in Ocean County on charges of Death by Vessel in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5b(1); Strict Liability Vehicular Homicide in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.3a and Assault by Vessel in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:1c(2), in connection with a boat crash that occurred on the Barnegat Bay in Toms River on June 13, 2021, resulting in the death of Corey Molinari, 19, of Whippany, New Jersey.
On June 13, 2021, at approximately 1:13 a.m., the Toms River Township Police Department and the New Jersey State Police were notified of a boat crash that occurred in the Barnegat Bay. Officers responded to Antiqua Avenue and found that Corey Molinari had been ejected from a pontoon boat and suffered serious bodily injury including severe head trauma. At least six other occupants of the boat were identified and treated on scene for various injuries. Molinari was treated on scene and subsequently airlifted to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune where he subsequently died from his injuries. An investigation by the New Jersey State Police Troop “C” Criminal Investigation Office, New Jersey State Police Crime Scene Investigation Unit and Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit determined that Fernandez, II, was the operator of the pontoon boat when the boat struck a cement channel marker.
Further investigation revealed that Fernandez, II, had been consuming alcohol while operating the pontoon boat. Fernandez, II, was transported to Community Medical Center in Toms River where he consented to a draw of his blood at approximately 9:32 a.m. Fernandez, II, blood alcohol content (BAC) was determined to be .037%. The State retained the services of Robert J. Pandina, Ph.D, a forensic psycho-pharmacologist, who analyzed the toxicology findings of Fernandez, II’s BAC. Dr. Pandina concluded through extrapolation analysis that Fernandez II’s BAC at the time of the collision was between .13% and .15%. In the State of New Jersey, an operator of a motor vehicle or vessel is presumed to be over the legal limit for purposes of alcohol consumption where his/her BAC is .08 or greater.
On September 9, 2021, Fernandez II was arrested at his residence without incident. He was transported to New Jersey State Police Tuckerton Station to be processed. He was then transported to the Ocean County Jail, and later released as a consequence of New Jersey Bail Reform.
During the course of this investigation, Fernandez II’s father, Juan A. Fernandez, Sr., 59, of Towaco, was questioned by law enforcement in connection with this investigation. It was determined that Juan A. Fernandez, Sr., provided false information to Detectives during the course of the investigation; as a consequence, Juan A. Fernandez, Sr., has been indicted for Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-3a(7).
Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Senior Assistant Prosecutor Robert Cassidy who is handling the case on behalf of the State, and commends the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, New Jersey State Police Troop “C” Criminal Investigation Office, New Jersey State Police Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Toms River Township Police Department, for their combined and collective efforts in connection with this investigation resulting in Fernandez’s indictment.
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.