Trucker Charged In Fatal Old Bridge Auto Crash

OLD BRIDGE — A Pennsylvania truck driver has been charged with causing a crash that killed a Monmouth County man and injured the victim’s wife and daughter, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan and Chief William Volkert of the Old Bridge Police Department announced today.

Brad L. Phillips, 25, of Gap, Pa. was arrested at his home on May 11 and was charged with aggravated manslaughter, two counts of aggravated assault and possession of a controlled dangerous substance, methamphetamine.

Phillips was charged after an investigation by Officer John Bulin of the Old Bridge Police Department and Investigator Gregory Morris of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office alleged that Phillips was sleep-deprived and had been driving under the influence of methamphetamines when his tractor-trailer crashed into a sport utility vehicle in Old Bridge on April 25.

The investigation further alleged that Phillips, who was heading north on Route 18, ran a red light at the Ferry Road intersection at 7:27 a.m. and struck the 2001 GMC Yukon that was being driven by Hermino Balagtas, 58, of Manalapan.

His wife, Leonora Balagtas, 53, and their 11-year-old daughter were injured in the crash.

The family was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, where Mr. Balagtas was pronounced dead shortly after the crash. His wife and daughter were treated for their injuries and were released.

Bail has been set at $450,000 for Phillips who is being held in Pennsylvania and is awaiting extradition to New Jersey.

As is the case with all criminal defendants, the charges against Phillips are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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