PISCATAWAY — An Edison man was arrested and charged with causing the death of his passenger while fleeing police after breaking into a diner Thursday morning, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan and Chief Richard Ivone of the Piscataway Police Department announced.
Troy Hafesh, 43, was charged with the aggravated manslaughter of his passenger, a 43-year-old man whose name was being withheld pending positive identification and notification of his next of kin.
The man was pronounced dead at 10:20 a.m. on Jan. 24 after the vehicle in which he was riding crashed in the parking lot of a vacant restaurant on South Washington Avenue in Piscataway.
The results of an autopsy performed by the Middlesex County Medical Examiner’s Office were not available immediately.
Hafesh also has been charged with burglary, eluding police, causing the death of the man while driving with a suspended license, leaving the scene of the crash, and the attempted murder of a police officer who tried to stop the defendant and his passenger as they fled.
Police were dispatched to the Fontainbleau Diner on Stelton Road in Piscataway after receiving a call at 5:42 a.m. alerting them to a burglary at the diner.
Upon arriving, police entered the diner, saw two men fleeing and attempted to stop them. The pair got into their vehicle and allegedly tried to run down an officer, who dove to safety. The officer was not injured.
The vehicle, a 1998 Nissan Pathfinder, fled on Stelton Road. Police lost sight of the vehicle before they could get into their cars and were unable to pursue the suspects.
As police searched for the suspects, they received a call at 6:48 a.m. from a resident who said a stranger arrived at his house and asked for help.
Police were dispatched to Brookside Road, saw Hafesh and arrested him.
At 6:58 a.m., a police officer saw the Nissan Pathfinder had crashed in the parking lot of the vacant restaurant formerly known as Charlie Brown’s on South Washington Avenue. The passenger was pronounced dead at the scene.
An investigation by Detective Joseph Reilly of the Piscataway Police Department and Investigator Scott Crocco of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office determined that after fleeing the diner, Hafesh drove to Metlars Lane and crashed in the restaurant parking lot before running away.
Hafesh is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail set in New Brunswick by Superior Court Judge Joseph Paone.
The investigation is continuing. Authorities are asking anyone with information to call Detective Reilly of the Piscataway Police Department at 1-732-562-2364, or Investigator Crocco of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at 1-732-745-4471.
As is the case with all criminal defendants, the charges against Hafesh are accusations and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty.