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N.J. man killed, 2 seriously hurt when car collides head-on with tow truck


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A 43-year-old New Jersey man was killed and two passengers in his car seriously injured Monday night when he collided head-on with a tow truck in Sussex County, officials said.

James Ziniewicz, of Newton, was pronounced dead following the crash around 10:30 p.m. on Route 94 in Lafayette, according to New Jersey State Police.

Ziniewicz was driving north near milepost 28.2 when a southbound tow truck crossed over the center line and slammed into his vehicle.

Two passengers in the car - a 31-year-old Newton woman and a 33-year-old Hamburg man - were brought to Morristown Medical Center with serious injuries.

The 29-year-old Newton man driving the tow truck suffered minor injuries.

No summonses have been issued, though the crash remains under investigation.


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  • 5 months later...

Drug court sought for driver in double-fatal crash

SUPERIOR COURT — On the advice of his attorney, a Hampton man who was allegedly high on drugs when his tow truck struck a vehicle, causing the death of two, has applied for the drug court program to resolve the charges against him.


Joseph Crilley, 29, who has been incarcerated since his Sept. 17 arrest stemming from the Aug. 5 crash on Route 15, appeared in front of Judge Thomas J. Critchley Monday with his attorney, Nicole Rizzolo. Crilley entered a not guilty plea to a six-count indictment where he is facing charges including two counts of second-degree vehicular homicide.


Assistant Prosecutor Sahil Kabse, in response to Crilley’s application for the program said, “So the record’s clear, the State objects to Mr. Crilley’s admission into drug court for these serious charges.”


The drug court program is for adults charged with a crime that has a presumption of incarceration, offering them an alternative to jail that focuses on rigorous treatment and rehabilitation. The term often runs from 12 months to five years.


A formal plea offer has not been provided, but Kabse said he will do so in writing by Crilley’s next court hearing in February.


Rizzolo, who indicated she hopes Crilley’s application for the drug court program can be “reviewed and resolved” by the next hearing, also provided the court with a document from the Morris County Sheriff’s Office, indicating that Crilley has been placed in the Hope Wing in the Morris County Jail. The unit provides substance abuse services for inmates.


“What I am asking Your Honor to do is he be released into, pending the review of his drug court application, he be released into treatment,” Rizzolo said.


Rizzolo said she is sorting through nearly 500 pages of discovery and is awaiting a copy of Crilley’s recorded statement he gave to police following the crash.


Kabse said he intends on bringing in a doctor as an expert witness to “show the impact drugs have on the system.”


Blood and urine samples taken from Crilley following the 10:30 p.m. crash indicated he had fentanyl, norfentanyl — a metabolite of fentanyl — alprazolm (Xanax) and morphine in his system, according to police. Crilley was additionally indicted on three counts of third-degree possession, one each for having six wax folds of heroin, fentanyl and cocaine.


Authorities say Crilley, who was towing two vehicles on a tow truck, traveled over the double yellow lines and struck a Honda Civic hatchback. Crilley has previously argued that the 2012 Isuzu truck’s braking system failed, but an inspection found the brakes to be in working order, authorities said.


The driver of the Honda, James Ziniewicz, 43, of Newton, died at the scene. A back-seat passenger, Bassirou Diate, 33, of Hamburg, died 26 days after the crash due to his injuries, police said. A fourth-degree assault by auto charge stems from serious injuries another passenger, Alisha Jackson, 31, of Newton, suffered to her face, hip and leg. Kabse indicated in court Jackson lost an eye.


Crilley, who was on pretrial release conditions out of Passaic County for drug-related charges, has already completed the drug court program in Morris County for prior charges.


He is expected to appear back in court on Feb. 10.


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  • 1 year later...
Guest Jessica columbie

Yes it's TRUE james ziniewicz  was my brother and he deserves justice my brother was a great guy I miss him dearly 

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