NEWARK – A Newark police officer has been charged with reckless vehicular homicide for allegedly hitting a pedestrian on the Garden State Parkway – then leaving, coming back, putting the victim in his car and ultimately returning to the scene with the victim’s dead body.

Louis Santiago, 25, of Bloomfield was off-duty at the time of the Nov. 1 incident. He has also been charged with desecrating human remains and other related charges, acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens II announced.

The officer’s mother, Annette Santiago, 53, of Bloomfield, was charged with conspiracy to desecrate human remains, hindering apprehension and conspiracy to hinder apprehension and tamper with physical evidence. So was the passenger in Santiago’s car, Albert Guzman, 25, of Newark.

Santiago’s father, a lieutenant in the Newark Police Department, eventually called 911.

Prosecutors say that at around 3 a.m. on Nov. 1, Santiago was driving a 2005 Honda Accord northbound on the Garden State Parkway near Exit 151. They say he failed to maintain his lane and drove onto the road’s right shoulder, where he struck Damian Dymka, 29, a nurse from Garfield.

Damian Z. Dymka (Damian Ziggy Dymka via Instagram)

Prosecutors allege that neither Santiago nor Guzman called 911 or rendered aid. Instead, they left and returned to the scene multiple times before loading Dymka into the Honda and removing him from the scene.

Santiago then took the body to his home in Bloomfield where he, his mother and Guzman allegedly discussed what to do with the body, according to prosecutors. Eventually, Santiago went back to the scene.

Santiago’s father, a lieutenant in the Newark Police Department, called 911 and reported that his son had been in an accident. When the New Jersey State Police arrived, Dymka was dead in the back seat of the car.

Earlier police reports about the accident had said it occurred closer to 4:30 a.m.

The charges against Santiago include vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of a crash resulting in death, endangering an injured victim, desecrating/moving human remains, hindering one’s own apprehension, conspiracy to hinder prosecution, tampering with physical evidence, obstructing the administration of law and two counts of official misconduct.

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The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office said all three defendants have been arrested, charged and released with conditions.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com.

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