LINDEN — He's out of the hospital and now in jail.

The man who was behind the wheel of a car that crashed and killed a rookie Hillside cop back in October has been charged with vehicular homicide and driving drunk.

Ricardo Dos-Santos, 29, of Union Township, was charged last week with second-degree vehicular homicide, driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, careless driving, speeding, failure to observe a traffic signal, and failure to wear a seat belt. He was arrested on Saturday and will make his first appearance in court on Thursday.

His passenger on Oct. 15 was Hillside police officer Giovanni Esposito, 30. The men had left a gentleman's club in Rahway shortly before the crash after 2 a.m.

Neither man appears to have been wearing a seat belt. Both were ejected from the car as it rolled over on Route 1&9 in Linden.

After the accident, authorities were not sure who had been behind the wheel. The car, an Acura RDX, was registered to Esposito's mother.

But prosecutors now say Dos-Santos ended up driving his friend's car even though his blood-alcohol content was twice the legal limit.

Crash scene on Route 1+9 in Linden
Crash scene on Route 1+9 in Linden (RLS Metro Breaking News)

The car struck a truck that had been stopped at a red light. The car then swerved from the northbound lanes to the southbound lanes and rolled over several times.

Esposito had only been with the department for six months. He graduated at the top of his class at the Essex County Police Academy.

Acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan asked any witnesses to call their office at 908-347-0404.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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