Former New Jersey Police Officer Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison for Fatal Crash
A former New Jersey police officer was sentenced to five years in prison on Wednesday for causing a fatal crash that killed a nurse.
Louis Santiago, 26, pleaded guilty to three felony counts, including second-degree vehicular homicide, second-degree disturbing human remains, and second-degree official misconduct. He also received a summons for driving while intoxicated.
The crash occurred on November 1, 2021, on the Garden State Parkway. Santiago, who was off duty and intoxicated, struck Damian Dymka, 29, after drifting onto the shoulder of the road. Dymka, who was still dressed in his Halloween costume after a night of celebration, suffered fatal injuries due to the collision.
Instead of rendering aid or contacting the authorities, Santiago and his passenger, Alberto Guzman, loaded Dymka’s lifeless body into the back of the car and drove to Santiago’s home in Bloomfield. After speaking to his parents, including his father, Luis Santiago, who was a lieutenant with the Newark Police Department, Santiago returned to the crash scene with Dymka’s body.
Dymka’s father, Andrzej Dymka, offered an extraordinary act of forgiveness to Santiago during an emotional hearing at Essex County Court in Newark. Despite the immense pain of losing his son, Andrzej Dymka chose to show compassion, urging Santiago to use his time in prison to reflect on his actions and find a path to redemption.
The case drew widespread attention due to the shocking details of Santiago’s actions after the crash. Prosecutor Adam Wells described Santiago’s actions that night as “despicable” and “disgusting.”
“There was no concern for the humanity of the young man who was dying in the street,” Wells said. “There was only concern for protecting himself, for covering up his wrongdoing and trying to get away with something no matter who he hurt.”