An off-duty Newark police officer and his father, a Newark police lieutenant, have been charged in the death of a pedestrian they are accused of trying to cover up.
Damian Dymka, a 29-year-old nurse from Garfield, was struck and killed by Officer Louis Santiago as she walked on the shoulder of the Garden State Parkway early Nov. 1, 2021, according to the county’s acting prosecutor. of Essex, Theodore Stephens.
Dymka was returning from a Halloween party around 3 a.m., Stephens said.
He had misplaced his cellphone and was walking on the shoulder of the freeway in Bloomfield when Constable Santiago, 25, who had been drinking, struck and killed him in his private car, prosecutors say.
Santiago’s 26-year-old cousin, Albert Guzman, of Newark, was a passenger and was also charged.
Instead of immediately calling 911, they are both accused of driving to the family residence in Santiago, where they met Lt. Luis Santiago.
Young Santiago then returned to the scene and put Dymka’s body in his car, driving away, after which Lt. Santiago eventually arrived at the scene of the accident and called 911, according to Stephens.
Following the emergency call, young Santiago is accused of returning to the scene of the crash and unloading Dymka’s body shortly before the state police arrived.
An Essex County grand jury returned a 16-count indictment on July 15, charging young Santiago with homicide while driving, knowingly leaving the scene of a fatal car accident, unlawfully disturbing human remains, causing death while driving under the influence of alcohol, endangering an injured victim, tampering with evidence, obstructing prosecution and multiple counts of conspiracy.
The indictment specifically charges young Santiago with deleting phone data, tampering with the crime scene, failing to call emergency services and lying to law enforcement.
Young Santiago and Guzman have been charged with multiple counts of conspiracy to desecrate human remains, obstruct prosecution and tamper with evidence.
Young Santiago has also been charged with two counts of official misconduct.
Guzman was charged with obstructing the prosecution of another for the crime of leaving the scene of a fatal car accident by concealing or destroying evidence.
The elder Santiago has been charged with obstructing the prosecution of another for the crime of leaving the scene of a fatal car accident by providing false information to police on the morning of the incident.
The elder Santiago was also charged with official misconduct for failing to properly call emergency help for a car accident involving an injured person.
Officer Santiago’s mother, Annette Santiago, was initially charged, but the grand jury declined to indict her. All charges against the 53-year-old man have been dismissed.
A GoFundMe campaign set up for Dymka’s family has raised more than $20,000 in donations to help with legal costs “to ensure Damian gets the justice he deserves, without putting his family under undue financial strain. “.
On Thursday, Officer Santiago and Lt. Santiago were suspended indefinitely without pay from the Newark Police Department, authorities said.
Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at [email protected]
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These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey
A trip to New Jersey doesn’t have to be just the beach. Our state has incredible trails, waterfalls and lakes to enjoy.
From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to New Jersey’s hidden gems, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it’s a great workout.
If you descend and encounter an uphill hiker, pull to the side and give the uphill hiker some space. An uphill hiker has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.
Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless marked as an official trail, avoid them. Going off the trail, you risk damaging the ecosystems around the trail, the plants and wildlife that live there.
You also don’t want to disturb any wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from wildlife and continue hiking.
Cyclists must yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also give in to horses, but I don’t know how many horses you’ll encounter on New Jersey trails.
If you plan to take your dog on your hike, they must be on a leash and be sure to clean up all pet waste.
Finally, pay attention to the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it’s probably best to save your hike for another day.
I asked our listeners for their suggestions on the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions: