South Toms River Hit & Run Investigation
On Friday, September 25, 2015 at approximately 3:56 am, the South Toms River Police Department was dispatched to the Garden State Parkway Northbound Ramp at Dover Road and Route 9 for a reported pedestrian struck. Upon their arrival, a female bicyclist was found lying in the roadway of the GSP entrance ramp with various injuries. The victim, a female 48 years of age and tentatively of South Toms River, was ultimately flown to Jersey Shore University Medical Center. The vehicle that struck her was reported to have left the scene and was described by a witness as an older style van.
An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Ocean County Sheriff’s Department CSI, South Toms River Police and Toms River Police Departments quickly gathered the known case details and identified pertinent evidence in the roadway. The partnering agencies were able to obtain serial numbers from vehicle light lenses and other parts which identified the vehicle involved as a 1992-1997 Ford Aerostar. A bulletin to all surrounding law enforcement agencies was posted for any vehicles matching the description having front end damage.
At approximately 7:45 am, the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department Communications Center advised investigators that the subject involved in the crash had turned himself in to the South Toms River Police Department. The investigating detectives responded to the police department and the residence where the vehicle was located. The 1995 Ford Aerostar van was towed to the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department garage pending a search warrant. The operator of the vehicle consented to a blood draw and was subsequently interviewed regarding the accident at South Toms River Police Headquarters.
The investigation found that Antonio S. Rodrigues, 85, of South Toms River, was entering the GSP NB when he heard a “boom” and thought he struck a deer. He did not stop after hearing this crash and proceeded to his destination at the Route 70 Flea Market in Lakewood. While at the flea market setting up his stand, he heard someone state that there was a person hit on the GSP. Rodrigues, thinking he may have been involved, packed up his belongings, drove home and walked to the police department. There were no indications that Rodrigues was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. His license and registration were found to be valid.
As a result of the investigation, Rodrigues is currently charged with Leaving the Scene of a Crash and Failure to Report an Accident. The victim is listed in Critical but Stable condition at Jersey Shore University Medical Center with a closed head injury, fractures pelvis, fractured right ankle and is currently in surgery. Notification is still pending to the next of kin.
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