Authorities say the Linden Man hid the car used in the incident at an auto body shop in Westfield.
LINDEN, NJ – A city man is in custody and charged with multiple crimes in connection with the Jan. 20 hit-and-run death of a Fanwood woman, authorities said.
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, Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan and Linden Police Chief David Hart announced on Wednesday.
An investigation by the Union County Homicide Task Force and the Linden Police Department Traffic Bureau revealed that just before 2 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 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, hit her with his vehicle, said Union County Assistant Prosecutor Colleen Ruppert, who is prosecuting the case.
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, authorities said.
Crilly, a second-grade teacher at Beechwood Elementary School in Mountainside, suffered multiple serious injuries as a result, and she died 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."
“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,” 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, authorities said, he leveraged his employment at Brinton Auto Body on Springfield Avenue in Westfield to hide his vehicle following the accident, and also to order replacement parts and repair it there in an attempt to hide 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.
Anyone with information about this incident still is being urged to contact authorities. Sgt. Johnny Ho can be reached at 908-403-8271 and Detective Lamar 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,” 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.