Man indicted for role in police chase that ended in fatal accident

A Union County grand jury has returned a nine-count indictment against the truck driver who led police on a vehicle pursuit that ended in a fatal accident in Elizabeth earlier this year, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Thursday.

Danny Clyde Williams, 57, a.k.a. Danny Clyde Burnam, who has known addresses in California and Colorado, is charged with first-degree aggravated manslaughter, second-degree vehicular homicide, two counts of second-degree aggravated assault, four counts of second-degree eluding police, and a single count of third-degree aggravated assault.

At approximately midnight on July 9, 2016, Williams was driving a Freightliner cab-style commercial tractor in the area of First Street and Elizabeth Avenue when he first struck a vehicle, according to the investigation. The uninjured driver of the struck vehicle attempted to get Williams to stop, but instead he headed northwest on Elizabeth Avenue.

Moments later, near the intersection of North Broad Street and Elizabeth Avenue, an off-duty Union County Police Department officer spotted Williams driving erratically and also attempted to intervene; during this encounter, the officer fired a single round from his service weapon.

Williams then drove north at a high rate of speed on North Broad Street, where he struck multiple parked and moving vehicles. When he approached the area of North Broad Street and Parker Road, where police had set up a barricade, two Elizabeth Police Department officers also fired their service weapons multiple times, striking Williams.

Yet Williams drove through the barricade, and approximately one half-mile north of that area, near the intersection of North Avenue and Newark Avenue, he collided head-on with another vehicle, killing an adult male passenger, 24-year-old Elizabeth resident Jeffrey Oakley, and injuring the two other occupants of the vehicle.

Convictions on first-degree manslaughter charges are commonly punishable by terms of 10 to 30 years in state prison, while second-degree crimes result in terms of 5 to 10 years.

These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.