NEWARK, NJ — A Newark police officer is in jail and accused of fatally striking a nurse with his car and then bringing the body home to his mom to discuss what to do with it, according to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.
Louis Santiago, 25, of Bloomfield is facing multiple charges including reckless vehicular homicide.
Also charged is Albert Guzman, 25, of Newark, the passenger in Santiago’s car. He was charged with conspiracy to desecrate human remains, hindering apprehension, and conspiracy to hinder apprehension and tamper with physical evidence.
Annette Santiago, 53, of Bloomfield, the mother of Santiago, is charged with the same offenses as Guzman.
According to prosecutors, on Nov. 1, 2021 around 3 a.m., a 2005 Honda Accord driven by Santiago, who was off duty, was traveling northbound on the Garden State Parkway, near exit 151.
When Santiago failed to maintain his lane and traveled on the right shoulder of the Garden State Parkway, he struck Damian Z. Dymka, a 29-year-old nurse from Garfield in Bergen County, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said that after striking the victim, neither Santiago nor Guzman called 911 or rendered aid but returned to the scene multiple times before Santiago loaded the victim into the Honda and removed him from the scene.
Santiago then took the body to his home in Bloomfield where he, his mother and Guzman allegedly discussed what to do with the body. Eventually, Santiago went back to the scene, authorities said.
Santiago’s father, who is a lieutenant in the Newark Police Department, called 911 and reported that his son was in an accident. When the New Jersey State Police arrived, prosecutors said the victim was dead in the back seat of the car.
In addition to vehicular homicide, Santiago was also charged with leaving the scene of crash resulting in death, endangering an injured victim, desecrating/moving human remains, hindering one’s own apprehension, conspiracy to hinder prosecution, tampering with physical evidence, obstructing the administration of law, and two counts of official misconduct.
Santiago, his mother and Guzman have been arrested, charged and released with conditions.