FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 11, 2020
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Public Information Bureau (609) 882-2000
Major Brian Polite - ext. 6514
Lt. Theodore Schafer - ext. 6515
SFC Jeff Flynn - ext. 6516
Sgt. Lawrence Peele - ext. 6531
Tpr. Alejandro Goez - ext. 6527
Tpr. Charles Marchan - ext. 6513
Fort Lee, N.J. - The New Jersey State Police have arrested Joel Lasanta, 37, of Kissimmee, FL in connection to a fatal hit-and-run accident on the New Jersey Turnpike that killed Jada Smith, 21, of Teaneck, N.J.
On June 4, at approximately 10:25 p.m., troopers from Troop "D" Newark Station responded to the report of a hit-and-run crash southbound in the express lanes at milepost 121.5 in Fort Lee, Bergen County. When troopers arrived, they discovered Smith had sustained fatal injuries as a result of the crash. She was pronounced deceased at the scene at 10:54 p.m.
During the on-going investigation, detectives determined that Smith was driving a Honda CRV south on the New Jersey Turnpike. In the area of milepost 121.5, she was involved in a motor vehicle crash and became disabled in the right lane. Smith exited her vehicle and was struck by a tractor trailer, which fled the scene.
As a result of the investigation, detectives identified the tractor trailer and Lasanta as the driver at the time of the accident.
On Saturday, June 6, troopers located and arrested Lasanta without incident at the Clara Barton Service Area on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Joel Lasanta was charged with leaving the scene of an accident with fatal injuries and hindering apprehension. He was lodged at the Bergen County Jail pending a detention hearing.
Charges are mere accusations, and the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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