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Toms River Woman Charged In Fatal DWI Crash, Pinned Man Emptying Car Trunk: Prosecutor

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A 31-year-old woman from Ocean County has been charged with manslaughter in connection with a fatal DWI crash that killed a man who was emptying the trunk of his car, authorities said.

Her blood-alcohol level was four times the state limit to legally drive, according to Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer.

Ashley Beams, of Toms River Township, was charged on Wednesday, Feb. 16 with aggravated manslaughter and vehicular homicide, Billhimer said.

The charges are in connection with a Feb. 8 crash in Toms River that killed James Cruz, 62, of the Parlin section of Old Bridge Township, Billhimer said.

Beams was also charged with the motor vehicle offenses of driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, careless driving, failure to maintain lane and failure to wear a seatbelt, the prosecutor said.

On Feb. 8 at approximately 10:30 p.m., Toms River police responded Bay Avenue for a motor vehicle crash. Police determined that Cruz had been struck by a motor vehicle operated by Beams. An investigation by the Ocean County

Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Toms River Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit revealed that Beams had been traveling eastbound on Bay Avenue approaching the cross street of Twin Oaks Drive. Shortly after passing Twin Oaks Drive, Beams failed to maintain her lane of travel and entered the shoulder, striking Cruz, who at the time was retrieving a package from the trunk of his vehicle, Billhimer said.

As a result of the collision, Cruz was pinned between the two vehicles and carried a significant distance eastbound on Bay Avenue, the prosecutor said. Cruz was subsequently pronounced dead at the scene.

Beams was transported to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune for treatment of the injuries she sustained in the crash. The initial draw of her blood at the hospital revealed that Beams had a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .32 %. 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 his/her BAC is .08 or greater. 

On Wednesday, Beams was arrested by detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit at her residence. She was transported to the Ocean County Jail, where she was being held pending a detention hearing.

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