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Bergen County Woman Pleads Guilty To Death By Auto In DWI Crash That Killed Hudson County Man

Denisse Ortega
Denisse Ortega Photo Credit: HCPO

A Bergen County woman pleaded guilty to first-degree death by auto in connection with the DWI crash that killed a 66-year-old man on school property in Sept. 2019, authorities said.

Denisse Ortega, of New Milford, entered the plea during a Thursday hearing that was attended by the family of the victim, Mario Santamaria Sr., Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez said in a release.

Ortega, 36, was behind the wheel of a 2018 Nissan Pathfinder driving north on JFK Boulevard in North Bergen when she crashed into a 2012 Nissan Altima driven by Santamaria, who was heading west on 76th Street on Sept. 29, 2019 around 4 a.m., Suarez said.

Santamaria, of North Bergen, was pronounced dead at Jersey City Medical Center around 5:15 a.m.

Ortega was traveling 83 mph in a 25 mph zone and failed to obey several other traffic laws at the time of the crash, which occurred within 1,000 feet of North Bergen High School, police said.

The state is recommending a 10-year state prison sentence subject to the No Early Release Act, a 10-year driver’s license suspension and forfeiture of the Pathfinder, Suarez said. The other charges of Ortega’s indictment would be dismissed at sentencing pursuant to the plea agreement.

Ortega is scheduled to appear for sentencing on Jan. 6, 2022.

The investigation was conducted by the Hudson County Regional Collision Investigation Unit and the North Bergen Police Department.

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