LINDEN, NJ -- A Linden man is in custody and charged with multiple serious crimes in connection with the hit-and-run killing of a pedestrian on Jan. 20, acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan and Linden Police Chief David Hart jointly announced at a press conference held Wednesday afternoon.
Ibn Collins, 39, is charged with first-degree aggravated manslaughter, first-degree death by auto while driving while intoxicated within 1,000 feet of a school, second-degree hindering apprehension, and fourth-degree tampering with evidence in connection with the death of 35-year-old Meghan Crilly, who lived in Fanwood.
An intensive joint investigation by the Union County Homicide Task Force and the Linden Police Department Traffic Bureau revealed that just before 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, January 20, Crilly and three friends were crossing North Wood Avenue at its intersection with St. Georges Avenue (Route 27) in Linden. Collins, driving a red 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, struck her with his vehicle, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Colleen Ruppert, who is prosecuting the case.
The investigation later revealed that Collins had been drinking on his birthday at a Kenilworth bar before driving back to Linden that night, Ruppert said.
Collins did not slow down or stop following the impact, but continued through the intersection.
Crilly, a second-grade teacher at Beechwood Elementary School in Mountainside, suffered multiple serious injuries as a result, and she was pronounced dead at a local hospital 11 days later.
"Today's arrest doesn't bring Meghan back to her family and friends," said Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr, Police Chief Richard Trigo and Councilman/Police Liaison Anthony Carter in a joint statement. "Our thoughts and prayers remain with her family and friends and the people who loved her. We want to thank the hardworking Linden police and the Union County Prosecutor's office for their diligence, hard work, and persistence in bringing in this suspect."
“It’s abundantly clear from the outpouring of support the victim’s family has received that Meghan was an extraordinarily beloved daughter, sister, friend, and teacher,” Prosecutor Monahan said. “While this arrest doesn’t bring her back, we believe it is a first step toward securing the justice Meghan and her loved ones deserve.”
Collins is charged with hindering and tampering with evidence because the investigation further revealed that he leveraged his employment at a Westfield auto body shop to hide his vehicle following the accident, and also to order replacement parts and repair it there in an attempt to conceal his responsibility for the crime.
Collins was arrested without incident late Tuesday afternoon and lodged in Union County Jail pending a first appearance and detention hearing, both tentatively scheduled for Monday. The State has filed a motion to have him detained prior to trial due to the seriousness of the charges and other factors.
This investigation, which was assisted by members of the Union County Sheriff’s Office and New Jersey State Police, was led by Prosecutor’s Office Sgt. Johnny Ho, Detective Lamar Hartsfield, Detective Sonia Rodriguez, Detective William Guy, and Linden Police Department Investigator Jimmy Solano.
Anyone with information about this incident still is being urged to contact authorities; Sgt. Ho can be reached at 908-403-8271 and Detective Hartsfield is at 908-451-1873.
“This case, like so many others, is tragic. Meghan’s death was a hundred percent preventable, and drivers need to know that we will pursue them and hold them accountable to the fullest extent possible,” Chief Hart said. “I want to commend Investigator Solano, Sgt. Ho, and their teams for their cooperation and professionalism, and personally thank them for their tireless efforts throughout this very complex investigation.”
Convictions on charges of this nature are commonly punishable by up to 30 years in state prison.
These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.