Driver who killed 12-year-old said he thought he hit a deer, cops say
UNION TOWNSHIP (Union) — The driver involved in a hit-and-run that killed a 12-year-old boy last month told his boss and family he didn't know what he had struck with his work van that evening, according to the Union County Prosecutor's Office.
Jose V. Marrero, 37, of the Lake Hiawatha section of Parsippany-Troy Hills, surrendered at the Prosecutor's Office in Elizabeth on Friday, two weeks after the crash. He was charged with second-degree leaving the scene of a fatal accident.
Jeremy Maraj was hit July 17 before 8 p.m. while he crossed Galloping Hill Road on his way home from Irene Hoppe Park. Police initially described the involved vehicle as a commercial van. Maraj died two days later at University Hospital in Newark.
"We are happy they have him in custody," Jeremy's mother, Lisa Jamurath said on Sunday, amid news of Marrero's arrest.
Marrero was being held at Union County Jail. The detention hearing was set for Wednesday, Aug. 7, according to the Union County Prosecutor's Office.
According to the complaint filed in Marrero's arrest, surveillance footage of the van, which never stopped at the scene, was found at a U.S. Gas station on Salem Road by officers responding on July 17.
The silver 2016 Nissan NV200 cargo van belonged to Marrero’s employer, Specialized Shipping, LLC DBA DGM New York in Edison.
Business owner Eric Muller told police that Marrero called him the evening of the crash around 8:10 p.m, and told him he had an accident near the YMCA on Galloping Hill Road, police said in the complaint.
The next morning, July 18, Marrero brought the van back to work with significant damage to its windshield, hood and passenger side headlight, according to the complaint.
Muller searched online for any news stories of accidents and after seeing one about the Union hit and run, he called police, according to the complaint.
Prosecutor’s Office detectives responded to the business and interviewed Marrero, who asked for a lawyer.
Police also interviewed Muller, plus Marrero's parents, coworkers and girlfriend, who all said that Marrero had told them he didn’t know what he hit, according to the complaint.
Marrero's parents said he asked them to return to the crash site, where they didn't see any evidence of what he had struck, they told police.
Marrero told his girlfriend he must have hit a deer, due to the extensive damage to the van, the complaint said.
Maraj died on July 19, due to head injuries suffered in the crash. His family decided to donate his organs to help save four other lives, Jamurath previously said.
The Jeremy Maraj Memorial Fund on GoFundMe started by Jamurath has raised thousands of dollars toward funeral and medical expenses.
Neighbor Tom Ehrhardt also created a Jeremy Maraj Memorial Fund for medical and funeral expenses while "excess funds will be donated to the local elementary school," according to the campaign.
More from New Jersey 101.5: