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Toms River Woman Charged with Aggravated Manslaughter

Toms River

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on February 16, Ashley Beams, 31, of Toms River Township, was charged with Aggravated Manslaughter, Vehicular Homicide and Strict Liability Vehicular Homicide in connection with a motor vehicle crash that occurred in Toms River on February 8, resulting in the death of James Cruz, 62, of the Parlin section of Old Bridge Township. 

According to Prosecutor Billhimer, Ms. Beams was also charged with the motor vehicle offenses of Driving While Intoxicated, Reckless Driving, Failure to Maintain Lane, Careless Driving and Failure to Wear a Seatbelt.

Prosecutor Billhimer said that on February 8, at approximately 10:30 p.m., Officers from the Toms River Township Police Department responded to the area of Bay Avenue for a report of a motor vehicle crash. 

According to Prosecutor Billhimer, responding Officers determined that James Cruz had been struck by a motor vehicle operated by Ms. Beams. 

An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Toms River Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit revealed that Ms. Beams had been traveling eastbound on Bay Avenue approaching the cross street of Twin Oaks Drive. 

The investigation found that shortly after passing Twin Oaks Drive, Ms. Beams failed to maintain her lane of travel and entered the shoulder - striking Mr. Cruz, who at the time was retrieving a package from the trunk of his vehicle. 

As a result of the collision, Mr. Cruz was pinned between the two vehicles and carried a significant distance eastbound on Bay Avenue. 

Mr. Cruz was subsequently pronounced deceased at the scene.

According to Prosecutor Billhimer, Ms. Beams was transported to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune for treatment of the injuries she sustained in the crash. 

The initial draw of her blood at the hospital revealed that Beams had a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .32 %. 

In the State of New Jersey, an operator of a motor vehicle is presumed to be over the legal limit for purposes of alcohol consumption where his/her BAC is .08 or greater. 

According to Prosecutor Billhimer, on February 16, 2022, Ms. Beams was arrested by Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit at her residence. 

She was transported to the Ocean County Jail, where she is presently lodged pending a detention hearing.