Unlicensed Jersey City Driver Charged In Connection With Death of Off-Duty Police Officer


The driver who was involved in a crash which killed off-duty, Jersey City Police Officer Morton Otundo on July, 16, 2021, has been charged with one count of Causing Death While Driving Unlicensed, a crime of the third degree.

According to Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez, 30-year old Rafael Rodriguez-Rivera of Jersey City surrendered himself to detectives with the Hudson County Regional Collision Investigation Unit in Jersey City at 10:30 this morning.  He was released on a summons and is scheduled to appear in court on February 8, 2022.

According to a police account, on Friday, July 16, 2021, shortly before 2:00 a.m., members of the Jersey City Police Department responded to the intersection of Communipaw Avenue and Woodward Street on a report of a motor vehicle collision with injuries.   Upon arrival, responding officers found a motorcyclist with serious injuries. The operator of the motorcycle, later identified as 40-year old Morton Otundo of Jersey City, was treated at the scene before being transported by Emergency Medical Services to the Jersey City Medical Center.  He was pronounced dead at approximately 2:30 a.m.

Prosecutor Suarez says the initial investigation revealed that Otundo was operating a Yamaha motorcycle and was traveling east on Communipaw Avenue when he collided with a 2012 Ford Escape, operated by Rodriguez-Rivera, as the vehicle was traveling west and attempting to make a left turn onto Woodward Street.  The investigation found that Rodriguez-Rivera did not have a valid New Jersey driver’s license.

The above charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.