Under an agreement with the Prosecutor’s Office, Jacob T. Garrett, 25, pled guilty to Vehicular Homicide (First Degree) and Leaving the Scene of a Fatal Accident (Second Degree) in exchange for 15 years in New Jersey state prison.
The Hon. Terrence R. Cook, J.S.C. scheduled sentencing for October 18.
The investigation revealed that Garrett was traveling at a high rate of speed along Riverbank Road on January 14 when his vehicle struck a parked minivan before crashing through a fence and into the river near Wood Street just before 1 p.m. The front end of the car broke through the ice and became submerged.
Witnesses to the crash who rushed over to the scene indicated Garrett was already out of the vehicle by the time they arrived. “Help my girlfriend,” witnesses reported Garrett as saying to them before he fled.
Stephanie White, 23, of Burlington City, was found inside the sunken vehicle with her seat belt still fastened. She was extricated by emergency workers and transported to Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County in Willingboro, where she was pronounced dead.
City of Burlington Police Officer Charles Haney and his German shepherd K-9 partner Kobi tracked Garrett from the river to the Burlington Towne Center North light rail platform on West Broad Street. Police then had the train stopped at the Beverly/Edgewater Park station, where Garrett was located and taken into custody by officers from the Beverly City, Edgewater Park and City of Burlington police departments.
Assistant Prosecutor Thaddeus E. Drummond, supervisor of the BCPO Collision and Analysis Reconstruction Unit, is prosecuting the case.
The investigation was conducted by the Prosecutor’s Office and City of Burlington Police Department. The lead investigators were BCPO Detective Tony Luyber and City of Burlington Police Detective Corporal Anna Czajka.