Truck Driver Imprisoned For Causing Auto Fatality

NEW BRUNSWICK — A Pennsylvania truck driver has been sentenced to an eight-year prison term for causing a motor vehicle crash that killed a Monmouth County man and injured the victim’s wife and daughter, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan announced today.

Brad L. Phillips, 26, of Gap, Pa. was sentenced to the term in New Brunswick on Dec. 10 by Superior Court Judge Bradley Ferencz, who said the defendant must serve 85 percent of the prison term before he can be eligible for parole.

In addition, the judge sentenced Phillips to two five-year terms, to run concurrently with the eight-year term, for injuring the two passengers who were riding with Herminio Balagtas, 58, of Manalapan, when their sport utility vehicle was struck in Old Bridge on April 25.

Phillips was sentenced after he pleaded guilty in September to aggravated manslaughter and two counts of assault by auto under a plea agreement reached with Middlesex County Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Christopher L. C. Kuberiet.

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 showed that Phillips was sleep-deprived and had been driving under the influence of methamphetamines when his tractor-trailer crashed into the sport utility vehicle.

The investigation further showed 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 Mr. Balagtas.

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 after a substantial period of time.


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