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Vehicular Homicide: Spring Valley Man Charged In Hit-Run That Killed Driver On GSP

Christopher Forrest; Inset: Howard Perlman
Christopher Forrest; Inset: Howard Perlman Photo Credit: Bergen County Jail/Inset: Family photo

Police have arrested a Rockland County man who they said was responsible for a hit-and-run crash that killed a 77-year-old motorist on the Garden State Parkway a year and a half ago.

Christopher Forrest, age 26, was charged with vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of a crash resulting in the death of Dutchess County resident Howard Perlman on June 17, 2021, according to records obtained by Daily Voice.

Forrest, of Spring Valley, was recklessly driving a BMW that clipped Perlman's Toyota Venza in the area of milepost 172.3 in Montvale shortly after 7 p.m., New Jersey State Police said.

It sent the SUV careening off the northbound Parkway and into a bank of trees, they said. 

Perlman was later pronounced dead at Montefiore Nyack Hospital.

Loved ones and friends waited for answers as detectives from the State Police CSI and Fatal Accident Investigation units conducted a probe that ended up lasting more than a year.

Forrest's father, who owns the BMW, had retained a lawyer and "declined to cooperate" throughout, an investigator reported.

Detectives said they got help from a witness who reported seeing a dark-colored BMW race onto the Parkway from the Montvale Service Area that fateful night in an "aggressive and unsafe manner."

The NJ State Police report continues:

"Based on the statement provided by the witness, damage sustained to the victim's Toyota, and the specifics of how the crash occurred, it is believed that the BMW changed lanes in front of the victim's Toyota from the right lane to the left.

"While changing lanes, the driver's side rear quarter panel near the wheel well of the BMW struck the victim's front right bumper, causing the Toyota to lose directional control and crash."

An alert went to area law enforcement in New Jersey and New York immediately after the crash.

The next day, an officer with an automated license plate reader spotted the damaged BMW just over the border in Clarkstown.

"The vehicle was located and ultimately seized via a search warrant," New Jersey State Police reported. "Over the course of the next year, several other search warrants were also drafted for the suspect's cell phone."

Paint found on Perlman's car matched that of the BMW, they said.

The records of both Forrest's cellphone and the BMW's "black box" -- both obtained through court-ordered search warrants -- pegged him and the vehicle to that area at that time, they said.

The computer system also showed that car was being "operated in an unsafe manner at the time of the crash," according to the detective's report.

State Police brought their evidence to the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, which charged Forrest with death by auto and leaving the scene of a fatal accident.

He was booked into the Bergen County Jail on Nov. 3 and released by a judge the very next day, with conditions, pending trial.

Perlman was born in the Bronx -- the eldest of five children -- and attended DeWitt Clinton High School and Apex Technical School before obtaining a degree from the City College of New York.

He'd lived in Hopewell Junction since 1970 -- and, before then, in Surf City, NJ.

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