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Somerset County man gets 5 years in state prison for fatal crash

SOMERVILLE, NJ (Somerset County) – A 68-year-old Bedminster Township man was sentenced on Nov. 10 to five years in state prison for a crash that killed a 65-year-old man in Bedminster Township on Nov. 13, 2020, according to Somerset County Prosecutor John P. McDonald.

George L. Rodriguez was sentenced by the Honorable Peter J. Tober, P.J.Cr., to a term of five years in state prison with 85% to be served without parole on charges of second-degree death by auto, third-degree driving while suspended and causing death, fourth-degree driving while suspended for a second or subsequent DWI, third-degree insurance fraud, and third-degree motor vehicle title fraud. He was also sentenced on motor vehicle summonses for driving while suspended and reckless driving, McDonald said.

Rodriguez entered a guilty plea to the charges on September 23, McDonald said.

On November 13, 2020, at around 6:47 p.m., Rodriguez was driving his SUV on Routes 202/206 North in Bedminster when he crossed over into the oncoming lanes at the intersection of Routes 202/206 and River Road. Travelling at 50 mph, he slammed head-on into a compact sedan, driven by Michael Sivulich of Bedminster Township, McDonald said.

The victim who was transported to an area hospital was subsequently pronounced dead, McDonald said.

​Just prior to the collision, Rodriguez was driving north in the leftmost lane of Routes 202/206 approaching the intersection with River Road. The north and south lanes of 202/206 are separated by a concrete barrier, except at the intersection with River Road. That intersection is controlled by traffic lights, and all turns from the northbound side (left or U-turns) must be made via a “jug-handle” on the right side, McDonald said.

​As confirmed by eyewitnesses, Rodriguez’s vehicle steered left as it entered the intersection and crossed onto the oncoming lanes on the southbound side of the road. There, he struck the victim’s vehicle head-on, McDonald said.

At the scene, Rodriguez told officers that he was trying to make a left turn, and that he was “going the wrong way apparently.” Evidence from the event data recorder in Rodriguez’s vehicle showed that Rodriguez was travelling at 50 mph at the time of impact. The investigation also revealed that Rodriguez never applied the brakes or made any attempt to avoid the crash, McDonald said.

During his guilty plea, Rodriguez admitted that his driver’s license was suspended since 2012 due to multiple prior convictions for driving while intoxicated. He further admitted that he defrauded both the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission and an insurance company for nearly two years. The investigation revealed that Rodriguez had his vehicle fraudulently registered with the NJMVC and insured under the name and address of an acquaintance, McDonald said.

​The investigation was conducted by officers from the Bedminster Township Police Department, detectives from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, and members of the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Collision Analysis Reconstruction Team. The matter was prosecuted by Somerset County Assistant Prosecutor John R. Ascione.

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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