New Jersey

Unlicensed Driver Charged in Motorcycle Death of Off-Duty NJ Officer: Prosecutor

Morton Otundo, an off-duty police officer, died in a vehicle collision crash in Jersey City

Picture of Police Officer Morton Otundo from his 2013 police academy graduation.
Jersey City Police

Prosecutors say the driver involved in a traffic collision that resulted in the death of an off-duty New Jersey officer did not have a valid license.

The officer, later identified as 40-year-old Morton Otundo, was driving a Yamaha motorcycle traveling East on Communipaw Avenue when it collided with a Ford Escape traveling west on the same street.

The incident occurred shortly before 2 a.m. July 16 in Jersey City, according to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office. The officer was pronounced dead at approximately 2:30 am.

The driver of the Ford Escape, a 30-year-old Jersey City resident now identified as Rafael Rodriguez-Rivera, was also taken to the Jersey City Medical Center.

No charges were immediately announced. But on Monday, six months after the crash, Hudson County officials said Rodriguez-Rivera had been charged with one count of causing death while driving unlicensed.

Prosecutor Esther Suarez said an investigation into the collision revealed the 30-year-old did not have a valid driver's license. He surrendered himself to authorities Monday morning and was released on a summons.

Attorney information for Rodriguez-Rivera was not immediately known. He's due back in court early next month.

"Officer Otundo leaves behind a lasting legacy throughout the entire police department through his two younger brothers, who are also on the force, as well as the many officers with whom he took the time to mentor, sharing his knowledge to help provide guidance and ultimately strengthen the department overall," Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement following the crash. 

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