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Township Man Faces Multiple Charges In Vehicular Death Of Freehold Resident

Arturo Tlapa. (Photo: GoFundMe.)

A 19-year-old township man faces multiple charges – including First Degree Aggravated Manslaughter – in connection with the death of a Freehold man after a November 9 car crash in Old Bridge.

The township man and a Marlboro police officer were involved in a car chase at the time of the accident, according to a statement from the office of state Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin.

According to Middlesex County authorities, the car which the Franklin man was driving had been reported stolen from New Brunswick on October 23. The Franklin man allegedly drove the car to Marlboro to commit car burglaries, according to the release.

Neighbors spotted the alleged burglary attempts and called police, the release said.

It was then that a responding Marlboro police officer spotted the Franklin man and the chase ensued, according to the release.

The cars eventually arrived near the intersection of Spring Valley Road and Route 9 south in Old Bridge, where the township man’s car collided with one driven by 33-year-old Arturo Tlapa Luna of Freehold, police said.

Luna died on the scene; other members of his family who were in the car and injured were taken to a local hospital for treatment, according to the release.

In addition to the aggravated manslaughter charge, the Franklin man faces one count of 2nd Degree Eluding, one count of 2nd Degree Employing a Juvenile, and one count of 3rd Degree Theft.

The township man is presently lodged at the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center in North Brunswick pending a pre-trial detention hearing in Superior Court.

Luna’s sister-in-law, Blanca Jimenez, has organized a GoFundMe campaign to help offset the cost of Luna’s funeral.

“Now, my sister is left to care for their 2 daughters alone without her husband after having him by her side for almost 15 years,” Jimenez wrote. “My sister has no other form of income at the time and in between mourning her husband, caring for her injured daughter and healing from her own injuries arranging for a funeral is just too much for her. This money would help eliminate the stress of funeral expenses and everything in between.”

“Arturo was a loving and caring father and husband,” Jimenez wrote. “He was so dedicated to his family and his work and was always planning his next move. He dreamed of opening his own restaurant and had so many plans for his family and their future.”

As of early in the morning of November 11, the campaign raised $4,797 of its $10,000 goal.

The accident is also under investigation by the state Attorney General’s office, which is mandated under state law. The investigation’s findings will eventually be presented to a Grand Jury.

Police also charged a 17-year-old boy in connection with the incident. The boy was charged with an act of juvenile delinquency for offenses which if committed by an adult would constitute as one count of 3rd Degree Burglary, one count of 4th Degree Joyriding, and one count of 3rd Degree Conspiracy to commit Burglary, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office release.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Jonathan Berman of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-4328.

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