According to Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio, witnesses said that Jessi Saquipulla, 19, of North Bergen, was allegedly driving at speeds over 60 miles per hour when he crashed into a support wall along a CSX Transportation freight railway two weeks ago, killing one of his passengers.
The March 13 crash occurred around 5:30 a.m. when Saquipulla, along with Tyla Colilla, 19, of Lyndhurst and two other 19-year-old passengers were riding in Saquipulla’s 2008 blue Honda Civic. The wall is at 83rd Street in North Bergen, a few blocks away from West Side Avenue.
DeFazio said it is believed that the teens were allegedly returning from a club in Paterson, N.J.
Colilla was rushed to Jersey City Medical Center, where she died at 6:21 a.m. The driver and two passengers were taken to an area hospital where they were treated and released, DeFazio said.
CSXT Police, who have been investigating the crash, have charged Saquipulla with death by auto, possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, and possession of a CDS in a motor vehicle.
“Underage drinking and excessive speed can lead to unspeakable tragedies for young people.” — Edward DeFazio
The death-by-auto charge will be handled by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, while the other charges will go to the North Bergen Municipal Court.
“Underage drinking and excessive speed can lead to unspeakable tragedies for young people,” said DeFazio.
The victim, Colilla, graduated from North Bergen High School in 2008, where she finished up her senior year after attending Lyndhurst High School for her junior and sophomore years. Colilla was born and raised in North Bergen.
Arrest warrant issued
DeFazio said that CSXT Police released a warrant for Saquipulla’s arrest, but he did not know if the suspect had been brought into custody yet. He said that Saquipulla’s bail had been set by the New Jersey Superior Court at $50,000.
He said that Saquipulla’s blood alcohol level after the accident was allegedly.12, above the legal limit of .08.
Simon said that they were still waiting on toxicology reports, which they should receive in the next week or so.
Along with being allegedly intoxicated, Saquipulla allegedly had a small amount of marijuana in his possession.
“It was consistent with personal use,” said DeFazio.
Vehicle saw accident
According to DeFazio, the witnesses to the crash included at least one other driver. The speed limit in that zone was 25 miles per hour, DeFazio said.
The crash occurred a few blocks away from West Side Avenue, where numerous drunken driving accidents have occurred in the past.
Tricia Tirella may be reached at TriciaT@hudsonreporter.com.