Charges Upgraded to First-Degree Manslaughter for Driver Involved in Kearny Crash

Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez said charges against the driver in a fatal collision in Kearny in March that killed a 26-year-old Newark man have been upgraded to include first-degree aggravated manslaughter and death by auto after the investigation determined the driver was operating above the posted speed limit, had a Blood Alcohol Content level above the legal limit, and failed to maintain his lane.

Officials said the driver, Mr. William Frazier, 53, of Newark, has been additionally charged with Aggravated Manslaughter in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4A(1), a crime of the first degree; Death by Auto in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5A, a crime of the second degree; and two counts of Assault by Auto in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1C(2), a crime of the fourth-degree.

Frazier was arrested on the new charges on Thursday, July 23, 2020, at the Hudson County Correctional Center, where he remains detained pending trial.

At the time of the crash, Frazier was arrested and charged with Causing a Death While Driving with a Suspended License in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:40-22a, a crime of the third degree. He was also charged with Driving While Intoxicated, a motor vehicle violation.

Officials said on Friday, March 13, at approximately 6:30 p.m., members of the Kearny Police Department responded to the area of 1806 Harrison Avenue in Kearny on reports of a collision.

Upon arrival, responding officers found a multi-vehicle collision involving multiple injured individuals.

The initial investigation by the Hudson County Regional Collision Investigation Unit and the Kearny Police Department determined that a 2017 Nissan Altima traveling west on Harrison Avenue struck an eastbound 2018 Kia Soul causing the vehicle to veer into westbound lanes where it was struck by a 2009 Freightliner truck (cab only).

Police said Mr. Vance Caswell, 26 of Newark, who was a passenger in the Kia, was transported by Emergency Medical Services to St. Michael’s Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at approximately 7:40 p.m.

The drivers of both the Kia and the Freightliner sustained non-life threatening injuries.

EMS transported them to University Hospital where they were treated and later released.

Prosecutor Suarez credited the Hudson County Regional Collision Investigation Unit and the Kearny Police Department with the investigation and the arrest.

The above charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. R.P.C.3.6(b)(6).