Indictment Handed Up In Woodbridge Auto Fatality

NEW BRUNSWICK—A grand jury handed up revised charges Thursday against a Rahway man after a motorist died from injuries he suffered in a multi-vehicle crash on Route 1 in March, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan announced.

Clifford J. Cooley, 27, was indicted by a Middlesex County grand jury on charges including aggravated manslaughter and vehicular homicide.


The grand jury previously indicted Cooley on charges including the aggravated assault of Nicholas Phan-Tran, 21, of Edison, in the March 23, multi-vehicle crash, but upgraded the charges after he died on Aug. 21.

Cooley also was charged Thursday with a second degree count of leaving the scene of a fatal collision, and was charged with a third degree count of driving while his license was suspended.

Two passengers in Cooley’s car, Brandon W. Bullock, 25, and David Colvin II, 20, also of Rahway, were charged with the same counts that were handed up in the original indictment.

Bullock faces charges of 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 a Middlesex County grand jury.

In addition, Cooley faces counts of assault by auto, hindering his own apprehension and obstruction.

The defendants were charged with hindering and obstruction after an investigation determined they ran from the scene of the crash, authorities said.

Phan-Tran was injured when the car he was driving was struck at 9:01 p.m. in the multi-car crash that was caused when Cooley, who was driving a Toyota Scion, engaged in a high-speed race with a Honda Civic in the northbound lanes of Route 1 in the Avenel section of Woodbridge, prosecutors said.

Police later charged that Cooley was intoxicated and speeding.

As the vehicles approached the Avenel Street intersection, the Honda Civic passed two cars, but the defendants’ car struck both vehicles, a Dodge Stratus, which was in the center lane of Route 1, and another passenger vehicle, which was slowing down to make a right turn onto Avenel Street, authorities said.

Police continue to search for the driver of the Honda Civic, a dark-colored vehicle, which fled the scene.

The impact of the crash caused by Cooley’s Toyota propelled the Dodge into the concrete median at the intersection. The Dodge landed on top of the Toyota Corolla that was being driven by Phan-Tran in a southbound lane of the highway, authorities said.

The driver of the Dodge, a 22-year-old man from Avenel, sustained minor injuries and was treated at Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy.

Authorities ask anyone with information about the crash to call Patrolman Gennaro DeStefano of the Woodbridge Police Traffic Safety Unit at 1-732-634-7700, or Sgt. John Dando of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office Fatal Crash Investigation Unit at 1-732-745-3300.

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