June 10, 2023
LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on June 8, 2023, Mordechai Berkowitz, 21, of Lakewood, was indicted by a Grand Jury sitting in Ocean County on the charges of Aggravated Manslaughter and Aggravated Assault, in connection with a motor vehicle crash that occurred in Lakewood Township on July 22, 2022, resulting in the death of Juana Lopez-Hernandez, 44, a citizen of Mexico, and causing serious bodily injury to Maria Flores-Moreno, 35, of Jackson,
On July 22, 2022, at approximately 8:20 p.m., Officers from the Lakewood Township Police Department responded to the area of South Lake Drive and East Lake Park Drive for a report of a motor vehicle crash with serious injuries. Subsequent investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit and Lakewood Township Police Department 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 Maria Flores-Moreno, 35, of Jackson, and occupied by front-seat passenger, Ms. Lopez-Hernandez.
Ms. Flores-Moreno was transported to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune for treatment of the injuries she suffered in the crash. Ms. Flores-Moreno was treated for her injuries and later released to a rehabilitation facility. She is currently home still recuperating from her injuries. Ms. 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 revealed that his Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) at the time of the collision was .157 percent. In the State of 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 Bail Reform.
Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Assistant Prosecutor Alyssa Mandara who presented the case to the Grand Jury on behalf of the State, and commends the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Ocean County Victim Witness Advocacy Unit, Brick Township Police Department Traffic Safety Unit, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, and Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office, for their combined and cooperative efforts in connection with this investigation.
The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.