TOMS RIVER — A 31-year-old township woman was driving drunk when she veered off the road and killed a man who was grabbing a package from the trunk of his vehicle, authorities say.

Ashley Beams has been charged with aggravated manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and driving while intoxicated, among other offenses, in connection with the Feb. 8 incident, the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office announced on Wednesday.

According to authorities, Beams was traveling eastbound on Bay Avenue just before 10:30 p.m. when she failed to maintain her lane of travel and entered the shoulder, striking 62-year-old James Cruz. Cruz, of Old Bridge, was pinned between his vehicle and Beams's vehicle and was carried a "significant distance," police say.

Cruz was pronounced dead at the scene. A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for funeral expenses.

"He was generous with his time and was always smiling. He brought joy to all that knew him," the campaign says of Cruz.

Jimmy Cruz (Joe Irizarry via GoFundMe)
James Cruz (Joe Irizarry via GoFundMe)

Beams sustained injuries during the crash and her blood was drawn while she was receiving treatment at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune. The initial draw returned a blood alcohol concentration four times New Jersey's legal limit, authorities say.

Beams was arrested on Feb. 16 and was transported to Ocean County Jail.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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