Driver charged in crash that killed officer in Jersey City, NJ

JERSEY CITY – Almost six months after a nighttime motorcycle-SUV collision claimed the life of a Jersey City police officer, the SUV’s unlicensed driver surrendered.

In a statement, the Hudson County District Attorney’s Office said Rafael Rodriguez-Rivera, 30, of Jersey City, surrendered Monday morning and was charged with one count of third degree death then that he was driving without a license.

Officer Morton Otundo was on leave in the early morning hours of July 16, 2021 when, according to authorities, his Yamaha motorcycle struck a Ford Escape, driven by Rodriguez-Rivera, attempting to turn left at the avenue intersection. Communipaw. and Woodward Street in Jersey City.

Rodriguez-Rivera was not identified by name at the time, but was reportedly briefly hospitalized.

Jersey City Police Officer Morton Otundo was sworn in in 2013 (Jersey City Police)

The prosecutor’s office said an investigation revealed that Rodriguez-Rivera did not have a valid New Jersey driver’s license at the time of the crash.

Rodriguez-Rivera was released on summons and is due in court on February 8.

Patrick Lavery is the anchor for the New Jersey 101.5 afternoon news. Follow it on Twitter @ plavery1015 or send an email to

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