Man charged in Union hit-and-run

UNION, NJ — Officials have arrested a Morris County man in connection with a hit-and-run that killed a 12-year-old boy in Union more than two weeks ago, Union police and the Union County Prosecutor’s Office said in a joint statement Aug. 2.

Jose V. Marrero, 37, of the Lake Hiawatha section of Parsippany-Troy Hills, surrendered to authorities on Aug. 2, and is charged with second-degree leaving the scene of a fatal accident in connection with the death of Jeremy Maraj of Union, the statement said.

Maraj was struck by a vehicle about 8 p.m. on July 17 in the area of Forest Drive and Galloping Hill Road in Union. He was rushed to University Hospital in Newark, where he died two days later.

According to the joint investigation by the Union County Homicide Task Force and Union police, Marrero was driving his work vehicle, a silver Nissan NV200 cargo van, when he struck Maraj. Marrero was lodged in Union County Jail after surrendering, pending a first appearance and detention hearing.

The charging document, a copy of which was obtained by Union County LocalSource, said Marrero told co-workers, a girlfriend and parents that he had been involved in an accident but did not know what he had hit and that he did not stop. He told his girlfriend that he believed he had hit a deer from the amount of damage caused to the van.

A witness described the vehicle that struck the child as a white or gray van, and surveillance video from a gas station less than a half mile from the scene captured the vehicle on camera.

Police were alerted to Marrero when his employer, Eric Muller, owner of Specialized Shipping in Edison, surveyed the van Marrero was driving on the day of the crash, the charging document said. Muller said Marrero had alerted him to having “crashed” the company vehicle shortly after 8 p.m. on July 17.

Upon examining the van the following morning, Muller found damage to the passenger side headline, hood and windshield, conducted an internet search, discovered Union Police Department investigation and notified police.

Union police impounded the van and, during their interview with Marrero, he invoked his Fifth Amendment right to counsel.
Anyone with information about the collision still is being urged to contact Task Force Detective Sean Holcomb at 908-358-8377 or Union police officer Michael Salerno at 908-851-5070.

Convictions on second-degree criminal charges are commonly punishable by five to 10 years in state prison.