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New Jersey teen faces charges for death of 3 young people

A New Jersey teenager is facing multiple charges related to a collision last December on I-95 in Lawrence Township. The 19-year-old has been charged with second-degree death by auto as well as second-degree leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death. He is facing three counts on the first charge because the accident resulted in the deaths of three other young people.

According to authorities, the defendant left the scene of the crash and went to his Lawrence home. He was arrested there not long afterward. Prosecutors say he admitted to having had several beers before driving that night. He allegedly lost control of his vehicle while driving southbound on the interstate around 1 a.m. and struck a tractor-trailer that was parked on the on-ramp shoulder.

The two passengers in the back seat of his vehicle, an 18-year-old and a 20-year-old, were reportedly thrown from the vehicle and died at the scene. The defendant's 19-year-old cousin, who was reportedly riding in the front seat, succumbed to his injuries later.

The defendant was initially released on $300,000 bail. However, according to a spokesman for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, the Guatemala native is currently in Essex County Jail without bail for an immigration issue.

The young man's attorney has argued that the main cause of the fatal accident was the ice and snow on the road. He also contended that the young man left the scene only to notify police of the accident.

Regardless of what criminal charges or penalties an at-fault driver faces for a fatal accident, victims' loved ones can still opt to pursue civil actions such as wrongful death lawsuits. With civil lawsuits, families can attempt to recover compensatory damages such as funeral and burial costs. They may also seek punitive damages that can help act as a deterrent to others who might put others' lives in jeopardy by acting irresponsibly behind the wheel.

Source: NJ.com, "Hamilton teen is indicted on death by auto, leaving scene of I-95 crash that killed three passengers" Keith Brown, The Times of Trenton, May. 28, 2014

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