News Department

Morris County man indicted in connection to deadly 2021 pontoon boat crash; Father indicted for hindering apprehension

TOMS RIVER, NJ (Ocean County) – Juan Fernandez II, 19, of Towaco was indicted on Wednesday by an Ocean County Grand Jury on charges of death by vessel, strict liability vehicular homicide, and assault by vessel in connection with a boat crash that occurred on the Barnegat Bay in Toms River on June 13, 2021, resulting in the death of  Corey Molinari, 19, of Whippany, according to Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer.

On June 13, 2021, at around 1:13 a.m., Toms River police and the New Jersey State Police were notified of a boat crash that occurred in the Barnegat Bay, Billhimer said.

Officers responded to Antiqua Avenue and found that Corey Molinari had been ejected from a pontoon boat and suffered serious bodily injury including severe head trauma. At least six other occupants of the boat were identified and treated on scene for various injuries, Billhimer said.

Molinari was treated on scene and subsequently airlifted to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune where he subsequently died from his injuries, Billhimer said.

An investigation determined that Fernandez was the operator of the pontoon boat when the boat struck a cement channel marker, Billhimer said.

A further investigation revealed that Fernandez had been consuming alcohol while operating the pontoon boat, Billhimer said.

Fernandez was transported to Community Medical Center in Toms River where he consented to a draw of his blood at approximately 9:32 a.m.  Fernandez, II, blood alcohol content (BAC) was determined to be .037%.  The State retained the services of Robert J. Pandina, Ph.D, a forensic psycho-pharmacologist, who analyzed the toxicology findings of Fernandez, II’s BAC. Dr. Pandina concluded through extrapolation analysis that Fernandez II’s BAC at the time of the collision was between .13% and .15%, Billhimer said.

In the State of New Jersey, an operator of a motor vehicle or vessel is presumed to be over the legal limit for purposes of alcohol consumption where his/her BAC is .08 or greater, Billhimer said.

On September 9, 2021, Fernandez was arrested at his residence without incident and was lodged in the Ocean County Jail, and later released as a consequence of New Jersey Bail Reform, Billhimer said.

During the course of the investigation, Fernandez’s father, Juan A. Fernandez, Sr., 59, of Towaco, was questioned by law enforcement in connection with this investigation. It was determined that he provided false information to detectives during the course of the investigation; as a consequence, he has been indicted for hindering apprehension or prosecution, Billhimer said.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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