Montclair, NJ – Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray, announced today that James Sterling, 30, also known as James Megget, of Elizabeth pleaded guilty yesterday to two counts of aggravated manslaughter.
While driving a Chrysler Pacifica SUV, on November 19, 2012, Sterling hit an ambulance, thus flipping the ambulance over and causing a multi-vehicle crash on South Orange Avenue and South 9th Street in Newark. A food truck and county transportation bus were involved in the crash. Two of the people riding in the ambulance were killed.
Montclair resident Keith Chipepo, 30, who was employed by the privately-owned Grand Medical Transportation ambulance company, was killed in the crash. Chipepo was a passenger in the ambulance. Transported to University Medical Center, Chipepo was pronounced dead.
A patient in the ambulance, Martha Conley, 58, of Newark, also died. Conley died on Nov. 28, 2012 from her injuries.
Chipepo worked as an Emergency Medical technician for the Grand Medical Transportation Company for five years. He left behind a fiance, 2 children, and a stepdaughter to mourn.
Initially, Sterling was charged with eluding, aggravated assault, driving with a suspended license and causing death and bodily injury.
Assistant Prosecutor Jason Hollingsworth handled the case. “This was a terrible crash that resulted in the death of two innocent people,’’ said Hollingsworth.
Appearing before the Honorable Ronald D. Wigler, Presiding Criminal Court Judge in Essex County, yesterday Sterling pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated manslaughter. As part of the plea agreement, he is expected to be sentenced to 13 years in New Jersey State Prison. Sterling must serve 85 percent of his sentence, under the No Early Release Act, before he will be eligible for parole.
Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 16 before Judge Wigler.