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Towaco Man Indicted for Vehicular Homicide in Connection with Boat Crash in Barnegat Bay

By kbm0423 on
Barnegat Bay

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on June 22, 2022, Juan Fernandez, II, 19, of Towaco, was indicted by a Grand Jury sitting in Ocean County on charges of  Death by Vessel, Strict Liability Vehicular Homicide and Assault by Vessel.

These charges are in connection with a boat crash that occurred on the Barnegat Bay in Toms River on June 13, 2021, resulting in the death of  Corey Molinari, 19, of Whippany.

According to Prosecutor Billhimer, on June 13, 2021, at approximately 1:13 a.m., the Toms River Township Police Department and the New Jersey State Police were notified of a boat crash that occurred in the Barnegat Bay. 

Officers responded to Antiqua Avenue and found that Corey Molinari had been ejected from a pontoon boat and suffered serious bodily injury, including severe head trauma. 

Prosecutor Billhimer stated that at least six other occupants of the boat were identified and treated on the scene for various injuries. Molinari was treated on scene and subsequently airlifted to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, where he later died from his injuries. 

An investigation by the New Jersey State Police Troop “C” Criminal Investigation Office, New Jersey State Police Crime Scene Investigation Unit and Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit determined that Fernandez, II, was the operator of the pontoon boat when the boat struck a cement channel marker.     

Further investigation revealed that Fernandez II had been consuming alcohol while operating the pontoon boat. Fernandez, II, was transported to Community Medical Center in Toms River, where he consented to a blood draw at approximately 9:32 a.m.  

According to the investigation, Fernandez, II blood alcohol content (BAC) was determined to be .037%. The State retained the services of Robert J. Pandina, Ph.D., a forensic psycho-pharmacologist, who analyzed the toxicology findings of Fernandez, II’s BAC.  

Dr. Pandina concluded through extrapolation analysis that Fernandez, II’s BAC was between .13% and .15% at the time of the collision.  

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

According to Prosecutor Billhimer, on September 9, 2021, Fernandez II was arrested at his residence without incident. He was transported to New Jersey State Police Tuckerton Station to be processed. 

He was then transported to the Ocean County Jail and later released as a consequence of New Jersey Bail Reform.

During the course of this investigation, Fernandez II’s father, Juan A. Fernandez, Sr., 59, of Towaco, was questioned by law enforcement in connection with this investigation. 

According to Prosecutor Billhimer, it was determined that Juan A. Fernandez, Sr., provided false information to Detectives during the course of the investigation; as a consequence, Juan A. Fernandez, Sr., has been indicted for Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution.