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DWI Bergen County Woman Faces More Serious Charges In Crash That Killed Hudson County Man

Denisse Ortega
Denisse Ortega Photo Credit: HCPO

Charges have been upgraded against a Bergen County woman accused of killing a 66-year-old man in a Hudson County crash last year, authorities announced Monday.

Denisse Ortega, 35, of New Milford, was initially charged with aggravated manslaughter and death by auto after the fatal crash on Sept. 29, 2019, Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez said.

The latter charge has been upgraded to death by auto and DWI while within 1,000 feet of school property, Suarez said. Ortega surrendered to authorities Monday, Suarez added.

Ortega was heading north on JFK Boulevard when she failed to obey multiple traffic signals and collided with a 2012 Nissan Altima driven by Mario Santamaria Sr., who was heading westbound on 76th Street around 4 a.m., authorities said.

A North Bergen police officer patrolling the area saw the crash and reported it, before responding to the scene and began helping both Ortega and Santamaria Sr., both trapped in their cars with no other occupants.

Additional North Bergen police officers, North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue, and Emergency Medical Services responded to the scene to render aid and assist with traffic control.

Santamaria, of North Bergen, was taken by EMS to Jersey City Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at approximately 5:15 a.m.

One of the North Bergen police officers who responded to the scene was injured while rendering aid to one of the drivers.

After receiving aid at the scene, the officer was transported by EMS to Palisades Medical Center where he received additional medical treatment.

Ortega was treated at the scene before being transported by EMS to Palisades Medical Center, and later transferred to Hackensack University Medical Center, where she was treated for non life-threatening injuries.

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