A New Jersey police officer has been charged with striking and killing a pedestrian on the Garden State Parkway then leaving the scene with the victim in his backseat.
Louis Santiago, 25, faces multiple charges, including reckless vehicular homicide and desecrating human remains in the November 1 incident, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office said.
Albert Guzman, a 25-year-old passenger in the car, and Santiago’s mother, 53-year-old Annette Santiago, were charged with conspiracy to desecrate human remains, hindering apprehension and conspiracy to hinder apprehension and tamper with physical evidence.
The prosecutor’s office said that Santiago was off-duty at about 3 a.m. on November 1 when he swerved out of his lane and drove on the shoulder, striking Damian Z. Dymka, a 29-year-old nurse. Prosecutors alleged that neither Santiago nor Guzman called 911 or offered aid to the victim and instead came back and forth to the scene several times before loading Dymka’s body in the car and driving to Santiago’s mother’s home. There, the three discussed what to do before Santiago drove back to the scene, and his father, a Newark police lieutenant, called 911 to report that his son had been in an accident.
New Jersey State Police arrived on the scene and found Dymka dead in Santiago’s backseat.
Santiago has also been charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, endangering an injured victim, desecrating/moving human remains, hindering one’s own apprehension, conspiracy to hinder prosecution, tampering with physical evidence, obstructing the administration of law, and two counts of official misconduct.
Louis Santiago, Annette Santiago, and Guzman were all arrested, charged, and released with conditions, the prosecutor’s office said.
For the latest true crime and justice news, subscribe to the ‘Crime Stories with Nancy Grace’ podcast
[Featured image: Damian Dymka/Facebook. Inset: Louis Santiago/Essex County Prosecutor’s Office]