An Essex County man is in custody and criminally charged with causing a fatal two-vehicle collision on the Garden State Parkway earlier this week, then trying to cover up his role in it, acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo announced Wednesday.
Ronaldo Godwin, 43, of Newark is charged with second-degree death by auto and second-degree witness tampering in connection with the death of 46-year-old Christopher Meikle of East Orange.
Shortly before 2:45 a.m. on Monday, February 15, members of the New Jersey State Police were dispatched to the area of mile marker 136 in the southbound lanes of the Garden State Parkway in Clark, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Armando Suarez, who is prosecuting the case. At that location, the state troopers found Meikle’s vehicle, a Lexus, engulfed in flames near the highway’s center median, as well as Godwin’s vehicle, a Range Rover, which had overturned on the shoulder.
Meikle was rushed to RWJ University Hospital in Rahway, where he was pronounced dead at approximately 3:35 a.m., while Godwin was transported to University Hospital in Newark for emergency treatment.
An investigation involving members of the State Police and the Union County Homicide Task Force revealed that Godwin had struck Meikle from behind at a high rate of speed, causing the collision, and when a good Samaritan motorist pulled over to offer assistance, Godwin requested that he be transported away from the scene, indicating that he was prepared to offer an unspecified reward in exchange.
Godwin has since been discharged from the hospital and lodged in the Union County Jail pending a first appearance and detention hearing scheduled to take place in Union County Superior Court.
“I would like to commend the hard work of our Homicide Task Force and our partners at the New Jersey State Police, under the leadership of Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, which allowed us to quickly bring charges in this terrible incident,” acting Prosecutor Ruotolo said.
Anyone with information about this matter is urged to contact New Jersey State Police Detective Nagib Saad at 732-441-4500, Ext. 3434, or Task Force Sgt. Danika Ramos at 908-451-7739.
Convictions on charges of this nature can be punishable by up to 20 years in state prison.
These criminal charges are mere accusations. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.