Driver Charged in Crash that Killed Off-Duty Police Officer

Driver Charged in Crash that Killed Off-Duty Police Officer

CONTACT: Caitlin Mota
PHONE: (201) 577-6699
DATE: Monday, January 10, 2022


Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez has released the following information:

The driver involved in a crash that killed off-duty Jersey City Police Officer Morton Otundo on July, 16, 2021 has been charged with one count of Causing Death While Driving Unlicensed, in violation of 2C:40-22a, a crime of the third degree.

Rafael Rodriguez-Rivera, 30, of Jersey City, surrendered himself to detectives with the Hudson County Regional Collision Investigation Unit in Jersey City at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, January 10, 2022. He was released on a summons and is scheduled to appear in court on February 8, 2022.

On Friday, July 16, 2021, shortly before 2:00 a.m., members of the Jersey City Police Department responded to the intersection of Communipaw Avenue and Woodward Street on a report of a motor vehicle collision with injuries. Upon arrival, responding officers found a motorcyclist with serious injuries. The operator of the motorcycle, later identified as Morton Otundo, age 40, of Jersey City, was treated at the scene before being transported by Emergency Medical Services to Jersey City Medical Center. He was pronounced dead at approximately 2:30 a.m.

The initial investigation revealed that Otundo was operating a Yamaha motorcycle and was traveling east on Communipaw Avenue when he collided with a 2012 Ford Escape, operated by Rodriguez-Rivera, as the vehicle was traveling west and attempting to make a left turn onto Woodward Street. The investigation found that Rodriguez-Rivera did not have a valid New Jersey driver’s license.

The above charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. R.P.C.3.6(b)(6)