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Youths Critically Hurt In Head-On Jersey Shore Crash, Manahawkin Driver Charged

Michael Pillarella
Michael Pillarella Photo Credit: Ocean County Prosecutor's Office

UPDATED: Two juveniles were critically hurt in a head-on crash in Ocean County, authorities said.

The other car's driver, from Manahawkin, was charged on Monday with two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault by auto, according to Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer.

At about 9:45 p.m. on Saturday, police officers from Little Egg Harbor Township were called to Radio Road and Baltusrol Court for a report of a two-vehicle crash with serious injuries, Billhimer said.

An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit and Little Egg Harbor Police Department found that a 2017 Hyundai Elantra operated by Michael Pillarella, 26, of Manahawkin, lost control on a curve, crossed over the centerline and struck an oncoming 2006 Toyota XB traveling southbound on Radio Road, Billhimer said.

The Toyota XB was operated by an unidentified juvenile, and there was a juvenile passenger in the vehicle, the prosecutor said. Neither of their names have been released by authorities.

Both juveniles sustained serious injuries and were airlifted to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, where they remain listed in critical condition, Billhimer said.

Pillarella was taken into custody on Monday without incident by officers from the Little Egg Harbor Police Department. He was processed at Little Egg Harbor Police Headquarters, and taken to the Ocean County Jail, where he was being held pending a detention hearing.

Pillarella had been airlifted to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center Trauma Center in Atlantic City for treatment of his injuries. 

A search warrant was obtained for a draw of Pillarella’s blood, and laboratory results remain pending, Billhimer said.

Pillarella was released from the hospital, and initially issued motor vehicle summonses for reckless driving and failure to maintain lane, the prosecutor said.

“This matter remains under investigation, and additional charges may be forthcoming,” Billhimer said.

New Jersey State Police and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit assisted in the investigation.

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