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Lakewood Man, 21, Indicted on Aggravated Manslaughter, Assault Charges in DWI Crash

The Ocean County Justice Complex, Toms River, N.J. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

The Ocean County Justice Complex, Toms River, N.J. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

An Ocean County grand jury handed up an indictment against a Lakewood man of being well over the legal limit for alcohol consumption when he was involved in a deadly accident.

According to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, Mordechai Berkowitz, 21, of Lakewood, was indicted on charges of aggravated manslaughter and aggravated assault, in connection with a motor vehicle crash that occurred in Lakewood Township on July 22, 2022. The accident resulted in the death of Juana Lopez-Hernandez, 44, a citizen of Mexico, and causing serious bodily injury to Maria Flores-Moreno, 35, of Jackson.

According to prosecutors, Lakewood police officers responded to the area of South Lake Drive and East Lake Park Drive for a report of a motor vehicle crash with serious injuries. A subsequent investigation by the authorities determined that a 2018 Chevrolet Impala, operated by Berkowitz, was headed eastbound on South Lake Drive when it crossed over the double yellow and collided head-on with a 2017 Toyota Rav4, operated by Flores-Moreno, 35, of Jackson, and occupied by front-seat passenger, Lopez-Hernandez.

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Flores-Moreno was transported to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune for treatment of the injuries she suffered in the crash. She was treated for her injuries and later released to a rehabilitation facility. She is currently home still recuperating from her injuries, prosecutors said.

Lopez-Hernandez was transported to Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus in Lakewood, where she was pronounced deceased.

Berkowitz was also transported to Jersey Shore University Medical Center for treatment of injuries he sustained in the crash. Blood samples taken from Berkowitz at the hospital and in furtherance of the investigation allegedly revealed that his Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) at the time of the collision was .157 percent. In New Jersey, an operator of a motor vehicle is presumed to be over the legal limit for purposes of alcohol consumption where the operator’s BAC is .08 or greater.

Further investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit revealed that the vehicle operated by Berkowitz was traveling in excess of 90 miles-per-hour at the time of the crash. The posted speed limit on the roadway is 35 miles-per-hour.

On July 27, 2022, Berkowitz surrendered himself to the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, with his attorney present, to be formally served with the charges. He was thereafter transported to the Ocean County Jail, and subsequently released as a consequence of New Jersey’s bail reform laws.

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