WAYNE TOWNSHIP, NJ (Passaic County) – Jason Vanderee of Vernon Township pled guilty Friday to three counts of first-degree aggravated manslaughter, and driving under the influence before the Honorable Marilyn C. Clark, J.S.C., Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes said
In exchange for his guilty pleas, at the time of sentencing the State will be recommending 30 years in State Prison, of which the defendant must serve 85 percent before becoming eligible for parole pursuant to the No Early Release Act, as well as a mandatory fifteen years of parole supervision upon his release, Valdes said.
Vanderee admitted under oath that on February 19, 2019, he purchased heroin in Paterson, and thereafter ingested the heroin and drove a motor vehicle recklessly on Route 23 North in Wayne Township, Valdes said.
Vanderee further indicated that as a result of the ingestion of heroin, he lost consciousness and control of the vehicle, which left the roadway and careened into the Delta Gas Station located at 1220 Route 23 North. His vehicle crashed into a parked car that was occupied by father and son, Jon and Luke Warbeck, who were killed as a result of the collision. After striking the Warbecks, his vehicle struck Fatra, who was also killed as a result of the collision, Valdes said.
Vanderee admitted that at the time, he was under the influence of heroin and fentanyl, and that his toxicology report also showed the presence of alprazolam and cocaine. He further admitted that given his history of heroin abuse and the choice he made to get behind the wheel while under the influence of heroin, he disregarded the substantial risk that it was probable his actions would cause death to another, and therefore he exercised extreme indifference to the value of human life, Valdes said.
Vanderee’s sentencing date has been scheduled for January 27, 2022 before the Honorable Marilyn C. Clark, J.S.C. The State is represented by Senior Assistant Prosecutor Julie Serfess, and Mr. Vanderee is represented by John Bruno, Esq., and Kenneth Ralph, Esq.