Charges against friends of former Hillsdale officer killed in drag race up Route 17

CLIFFVIEW PILOT HAS IT FIRST: Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli this afternoon said two people were arrested in connection with the fatal accident of former Hillsdale Police Officer Cameron Arki during a drag race between friends up Route 17 that topped 100 miles an hour.

Photo Credit: Hillsdale PD

MUGSHOT courtesy Bergen County Prosecutor Arki photo courtesy Hillsdale PD

Witnesses saw two BMWs racing north on Route 17 in Upper Saddle River around 9:30 last night, Molinelli said.

Arki (whose real last name was Jalali-Arki), 26, was driving one, he said.

The other was driven by Salvatore Benanti, 26, of Franklin Lakes, with 19-year-old Kelsi Tichacek as his passenger.

They had each broken 100 miles an hour, the prosecutor said, when Arki lost control of his Beamer, which careened several hundred feet off the highway before smashing into a parked trailer.

“It ultimately came to rest in the parking lot of Fazio’s Moving and Storage,” Molinelli said.

Arki was pronounced dead at the scene, the prosecutor said.

Both Benanti and Tichacek stayed at the scene, Molinelli said, adding that there was no evidence of contact between the two vehicles — which potentially could have led to more severe charges against Benanti.

However, Molinelli said both lied to investigators about what happened and were charged with hindering apprehension.

Benanti also received summonses for reckless driving and highway racing.

Additional charges are possible, Molinelli emphasized.

Benanti was released after posting 10 percent of $10,000 bail, while his passenger was released on her own recognizance. Both have initial Upper Saddle River Municipal Court hearings scheduled for next Tuesday.

Arki spent several years on West Newell Avenue in Rutherford before moving to Clifton. He unexpectedly left the Hillsdale force after only a couple of years last July to take a private sector job. His mom was graduated from North Bergen High School in 1971.

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