NJ police officer allegedly fatally strikes nurse, leaves, comes back to get body

NEWARK, N.J. (PIX11) — An off-duty Newark police officer was arrested and faces several charges after he allegedly fatally struck a Bergen County nurse, put the victim into his car, then returned to the scene with the body earlier this month, authorities said.

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Louis Santiago faces several charges, including vehicular homicide for striking a pedestrian on the Garden State Parkway, leaving the scene, then coming back and putting the victim in the car before returning to the scene with the dead body, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office said Wednesday.

The preliminary investigation determined that around 3 a.m. on November 1, the 25-year-old was traveling north on the Garden State Parkway near exit 151 when he drove onto the right shoulder of the parkway, striking 29-year-old Damian Dymka, a nurse.

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Neither Santiago nor his passenger, 25-year-old Albert Guzman, called 911 or rendered aid, according to officials. However, they returned to the scene several times before Santiago allegedly loaded Dymka’s body into the vehicle and removed him from the scene, authorities said.

Santiago then took the body to his Bloomfield home where he, Guzman, and Louis’ mother—Annette Santiago, 53—allegedly discussed what to do with the body. Louis Santiago eventually went back to the scene, authorities said.

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His father, a lieutenant with the Newark Police Department, later called 911 and reported his son was in an accident, the prosecutor’s office said. When state police arrived, the victim was found dead in the back seat of the car, according to authorities. 

Louis Santiago, his mother, and Guzman were all arrested, charged, and released with conditions, authorities said. Guzman and Santiago’s mother were charged with conspiracy to desecrate human remains, hindering apprehension and conspiracy to hinder apprehension and tamper with physical evidence, officials said. 

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In addition to vehicular homicide, Santiago faces charges of leaving the scene of crash resulting in death, endangering an injured victim, desecrating/moving human remains, hindering one’s own apprehension, conspiracy to hinder prosecution, tampering with physical evidence, obstructing the administration of law and two counts of official misconduct.

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