Manahawkin man charged for vehicular homicide

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TOMS RIVER, NJ – Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on February 1, 2021, Michael Pillarella, 26, of Manahawkin, was arrested and charged with two counts of Aggravated Assault in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(1), and two counts of Assault by Auto in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1c(2), relative to a motor vehicle crash that occurred in Little Egg Harbor Township during the evening hours of January 30, 2021.

On January 30, 2021, at approximately 9:45 p.m., officers from the Little Egg Harbor Township Police Department responded to the area of Radio Road and Baltusrol Court for a report of a two-vehicle crash with serious injuries. An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit and Little Egg Harbor Police Department revealed that a 2017 Hyundai Elantra, operated by Pillarella, was traveling northbound on Radio Road when he failed to negotiate a curve in the roadway, crossed over the centerline, and struck an oncoming 2006 Toyota XB travelling southbound on Radio Road.

The Toyota XB was operated by a juvenile, and there was also a juvenile passenger in the vehicle. As a result of the crash, both juveniles sustained serious injuries and were subsequently airlifted to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, where they remain listed in critical condition.

Pillarella was airlifted to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center Trauma Center in Atlantic City for treatment of his injuries from the crash. A search warrant was obtained for a draw of Pillarella’s blood, and laboratory results remain pending. Pillarella was treated and released from the hospital and was initially issued motor vehicle summonses for Reckless Driving in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-96, and Failure to Maintain Lane in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-88 on January 31, 2021.


An ongoing investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit and Little Egg Harbor Police Department has resulted in the filing of additional charges against Pillarella for Aggravated Assault and Assault by Auto – two counts as to each offense relating to both juvenile victims. Pillarella was taken into custody today without incident by officers from the Little Egg Harbor Police Department. He was processed at Little Egg Harbor Police Headquarters, and transported to the Ocean County Jail, where he remains lodged pending a detention hearing.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Little Egg Harbor Township Police Department, New Jersey State Police, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, for their collaborative assistance in connection with this investigation resulting in Pillarella’s arrest.

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