Rahway man admits to causing fatal accident following police chase

A Rahway man has admitted to being responsible for a vehicle pursuit that ended in a fatal crash in Elizabeth approximately two years ago, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Friday.

Surpris Ophilien Jr., 32, pleaded guilty to charges of first-degree aggravated manslaughter and second-degree certain persons not to possess a weapon Thursday before state Superior Court Judge Stuart Peim.

At approximately 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 18, 2015, Elizabeth Police Department patrol units were called to the Allstar Nightclub on 3rd Street in Elizabeth on a report of an altercation, according to Union County Homicide Task Force Supervisor Michael Henn and Assistant Prosecutor Armando Suarez, who prosecuted the case. On their way to the scene, two Elizabeth police officers in a patrol vehicle spotted a green GMC pickup truck being driven by Ophilien travel through a red light at a high rate of speed, Henn and Suarez said.

Ophilien subsequently led the officers on a vehicle pursuit, but once the pickup truck started traveling the wrong way down a one-way street, the pursuit was terminated. Moments later, a collision took place a short distance away, on an overpass for a ramp leading to North Avenue East in Elizabeth.

Ophilien, who was found to be in possession of a fully loaded .45-caliber handgun, climbed out of the wrecked pickup and ran a short distance, leaping from the overpass to the roadway below before being arrested. The critically injured driver of the vehicle Ophilien had struck on the overpass, 25-year-old Edward Coleman of East Orange, was rushed to University Hospital in Newark, where he was pronounced dead several hours later.  

Sentencing in the case has been scheduled for Friday, September 15, 2017, at which time the State will recommend a sentence of 20 years in state prison, with 85 percent of that term to be served before the possibility of parole.