Colonia Man Pleads “Not Guilty” In Cop’s Death

NEW BRUNSWICK—A 23-year-old Colonia man wept and pleaded not guilty to vehicular manslaughter during his arraignment before a Superior Court judge last week. Sean McGuirk is charged in the death of Perth Amboy police officer Thomas Raji, who was fatally injured in a car crash last month.

McGuirk was arrested on Aug. 27 after voluntarily turning himself in at Woodbridge police headquarters, five days after the fatal crash.

Authorities charge that McGuirk was intoxicated with a blood-alcohol concentration of at least .107 when he hit Raji’s patrol car. The legal limit is 0.08. McGuirk also allegedly disregarded two red traffic lights at the intersection where the accident occurred.

Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Nicholas Sewitch told the judge that McGuirk drove his vehicle recklessly, causing Raji’s death and serious injuries to another officer and a prisoner who were passengers in the car.

Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan said that the charges against McGurik are based on the results of a toxicology screening of his blood, witness statements, a video recording from the patrol car and results of a police investigation.

Raji and fellow officer Matthew Mercurio were driving south on Route 1 around 3:45 a.m. on Aug. 22 when McGuirk’s 2008 Nissan Altima, traveling west on Green Street, entered the intersection and struck the police cruiser.

Raij, who was driving the car, was pronounced dead at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick about an hour later. Murcurio was injured, as was prisoner Gregory Efford of Newark.

McGurik, the brother of a Woodbridge police officer, was released on bail with his driving privileges revoked. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

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