Warrant: Witness heard screams before speeding car slammed into tree, killing 2 people in Woodbridge

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State police have charged a New Jersey driver in a car crash on Aug. 13, 2021 that killed two of the six passengers in his car.

State police have charged a New Jersey driver in a car crash on Aug. 13, 2021 that killed two of the six passengers in his car.

Connecticut State Police / Contributed

WOODBRIDGE — Police have charged a New Jersey man with negligent homicide in connection with a crash that killed two of the passengers in his vehicle on the Wilbur Cross Parkway last year.

Juan Fernandez, 38, of Union City, N.J., was also charged with four counts of second-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangerment, three counts of risk of injury to a minor, speeding and other motor vehicle offenses, Connecticut State Police said Friday.

State police said Fernandez turned himself in Wednesday at the Troop I barracks in Bethany on a warrant for his arrest. He was released on $25,000 bond and is due to appear in state Superior Court in New Haven on Sept. 23.

On Aug. 13, 2021, Fernandez was behind the wheel of a 2012 Honda Accord that was heading north on Route 15 near Exit 59 in Woodbridge. Around 1:50 p.m., the car “veered into the right shoulder and struck a tree,” state police wrote in an accident information summary.

The wreck killed two of the six passengers riding in the sedan, all of whom were residents of Union City, N.J.

State police said 30-year-old Siryania Albino-Defernandez suffered life-threatening injuries and was taken to Yale New Haven Hospital where she died.

Nearly a month after the crash, a second passenger, 26-year-old Zionette M Santos-Degil, died Sept. 11, 2021 at Yale New Haven Hospital.

According to the warrant for Fernandez’s arrest, state police at Troop I began receiving 911 calls for a crash off the northbound side of Route 15 between exits 58 and 59.

Trooper Marissa Mach found the gray sedan with New Jersey plates resting next to the tree that it struck, the warrant stated. The car had sustained “heavy front end damage,” Mach wrote in the warrant’s affidavit.

After the vehicle’s occupants were identified and transported to the hospital, a state police crash reconstruction unit arrived at the scene. Mach wrote that no child restraint systems could be seen inside or outside the car, the warrant stated.

A witness riding in the passenger seat of another car reported seeing the Honda pass them at 70 or 80 mph, according to the warrant. The witness reported seeing and hearing a woman in the front seat of the Honda screaming as the car went past, crossing the shoulder and striking a tree head-on.

The witness said they pulled over and ran to the wreck, where people were already helping pull occupants out of the vehicle. The witness told police the woman in the front seat was pinned, according to the warrant. A second woman was also pinned by her legs in the back seat, according to another witness quoted in the warrant.

In a sworn statement, Fernandez told police he was headed to Wadsworth Falls State Park with family and friends for a “family day,” according to the warrant. Near Exit 58, he told police he heard the vehicle “pop,” and said his wife told him to “be careful.” He told police he did not remember hitting the tree, according to the warrant.

The crash reconstruction unit concluded the car was traveling around 70 mph when it collided with the tree, according to the warrant.

Mach wrote that at the time of the crash, five people — including three children — were in the back seat of the car, which was made to hold three passengers.