NEW BRUNSWICK – Authorities upgraded the charges against a Rahway man after a motorist who was critically injured in a high-speed crash in March died on Friday.
Clifford Cooley, 27, has been charged with first-degree aggravated manslaughter, according to Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan.
According to authorities, Cooley, Brandon Bullock, 25, and David Colvin, 20, were riding in a 2006 Toyota Scion racing a Honda Civic on Route 1 at speeds well over the 50 mph limit at 9 p.m. on March 23. The Scion approached the intersection and hit a 1993 Toyota Corolla, which was turning right onto Avenel Street, officials said.
The Scion then rear-ended a 2004 Dodge Stratus in the center northbound lane of Route 1, sending it into and over the center concrete median, authorities said. The Dodge landed on the roof of a 1998 Toyota Corolla, driven by Nicholas Phan-Tran, officials said. The Scion hit the concrete median and rolled on its roof and Cooley, Bullock and Colvin allegedly fled the car, authorities said.
Police apprehended Cooley and Bullock at the intersection of Avenel and Madison streets shortly after the crash. Phan-Tran, 21, was transported by helicopter to University Hospital in Newark. He never regained consciousness, authorities said.
A blood alcohol test done on Cooley revealed he was driving under the influence, authorities said.
An autopsy revealed Phan-Tran died from blunt trauma head and neck injuries suffered in the crash, according to officials.
Cooley is also charged with four counts of assault by auto, causing serious injury while driving on a suspended license, leaving the scene of a serious motor vehicle accident, four counts of endangering an injured victim, hindering his own apprehension and obstruction of the administration of law.
Bullock is charged with hindering his own apprehension, obstruction of the administration of law and four counts of endangering injured victims.
Colvin is charged with hindering his own apprehension, perjury and false swearing in front of the grand jury.
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