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NewsTowaco man, 18, charged in fatal Barnegat Bay boat...

Towaco man, 18, charged in fatal Barnegat Bay boat crash that killed Whippany man

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Detroit Free Press

An 18-year-old Towaco man has been charged with vehicular homicide and related offenses in a June 13 pontoon boat crash that killed a 19-year-old Seton Hall University student from Whippany.

The charges against Juan A. Fernandez II in the death of Corey T. Molinari were announced Thursday by the New Jersey State Police and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.

The head-on crash near Route 37 into an Intercoastal Waterway marker—channel markers lighted and affixed to utility poles in Barnegat Bay—injured four other passengers.

Troopers from the state police Marine Services Bureau responded to a call about the crash, going to Antiqua Avenue in Toms River at 1:13 a.m. that Sunday. Toms River police officers and rescuers also went to the scene.

Molinari was flown to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, where he died from his injuries, authorities said.

First responders tended to four other passengers, all of whom had non-life-threatening injuries. Authorities did not say if Fernandez was among them.

Fernandez had been able to navigate the 2014 Bennington pontoon boat after the crash to reach rescuers and police.

He initially claimed there were six people on board, but state police said three others were let off just prior to the crash, authorities said. During the crash, two people were thrown from the boat, according to the state police.

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A blood sample for toxicology tests was taken from Fernandez, leading to the vehicular homicide charge along with charges for strict liability vehicular homicide and hindering. The vehicular homicide charge carries a maximum prison term of 10 years if there’s a conviction. The other two charges can each lead to up to five years in prison.

The state police did not immediately respond to a question about the results of the toxicology tests.

Fernandez was arrested in Boonton on Wednesday.  He was taken to Ocean County Jail in Toms River, where he is awaiting a detention hearing. 

It was not immediately known if Fernandez has an attorney.

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Molinari, a 2020 graduate of Whippany Park High School, just finished his first year at Seton Hall University’s W. Paul Stillman School of Business where he was majoring in Economics, according to his obituary.

He achieved a black belt in karate and practiced jiu-jitsu and Thai boxing. A boat and car enthusiast, Molinari was a member of Spartan Powerboat Club, which has held events in Barnegat Bay.

“Above all,” the obituary reads, “Corey loved to be on the water and caring for his boat.”

Ken Serrano has covered crime, breaking news, investigations and local issues in New Jersey for more than 20 years. Reach him at 732-643-4029 or [email protected]

Source: Asbury Park

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