A Nutley man was jailed Wednesday in the deaths of a retired Albanian police chief and a Garfield Walmart manager in an early-morning crash outside the immigrant couple’s Lodi home last month.
Donald Kumar Davis, 29, was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide – also known as death by auto.
Davis was driving a 2015 Dodge Charger that slammed into a 2005 Toyota Corolla that was emerging from the driveway of a Harrison Avenue garden apartment complex and pushed it nearly 20 feet shortly before 7 a.m. June 29, authorities said.
The Corolla was found on its side near 481 Harrison Avenue, Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella said.
The Charger, which had front-end damage, was against the front steps of a residence, he said.
Muhamet Oparaku, 68, and his wife, Bukurie Oparaku, 64, were pronounced dead at Hackensack University Medical Center a short time later.
Davis was hospitalized with minor scratches and burns from the car's airbag. He was booked into the Bergen County Jail, where he remained Wednesday afternoon pending a detention hearing.
Initial indications were that speed was involved.
Muhamet Oparaku, who was a chief of police in Pogradec, Albania, emigrated to the United States with his wife, who was hired at the Garfield Walmart 10 years ago and eventually became a manager.
"She had a humongous heart, loved people and her job," a co-worker said. "She barely spoke English, but WOW -- she worked hard, she learned and was a great manager.
"Just a week before she was killed, she went to an academy training that we have and passed with flying colors," the co-worker said. "She was SO happy.
"She was taking an extra shift that morning to help out in our Suffern store [the day she was killed] because she was always helping any way she could."
Muhamet Oparaku, meanwhile, was "very intelligent and always respectful," the co-worker said.
The couple's only wish "was to be buried back home in Albania," family members wrote in a GoFundMe campaign. "We will honor that wish for them.”
Musella's Fatal Accident Investigations Unit investigated along with Lodi police.
Residents in both Garfield and Lodi have longed begged government officials for relief from speeders on Harrison Avenue, which has no traffic lights or signals in that stretch of roadway.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.