JERSEY CITY — Nearly six months after an overnight collision between a motorcycle and SUV claimed the life of a Jersey City police officer, the unlicensed driver of the SUV has turned himself in.

In a release, the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office said Rafael Rodriguez-Rivera, 30, of Jersey City, surrendered Monday morning and has been charged with one count of third-degree causing death while driving unlicensed.

Officer Morton Otundo was off-duty early on the morning of July 16, 2021 when, according to authorities, his Yamaha motorcycle struck a Ford Escape, driven by Rodriguez-Rivera, that was attempting to make a left turn at the intersection of Communipaw Avenue and Woodward Street in Jersey City.

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Rodriguez-Rivera was not identified by name at the time, but was reported to have been briefly hospitalized.

Jersey City police officer Morton Otundo being sworn into office in 2013
Jersey City police officer Morton Otundo being sworn into office in 2013 (Jersey City police)

The prosecutor's office said that an investigation found Rodriguez-Rivera did not have a valid New Jersey driver's license when the crash occurred.

Rodriguez-Rivera was released on a summons and is due for an initial court appearance on Feb. 8.

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email

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