Workers at a Dunkin Donuts on Marlton Pike in Pennsauken say they recognized the man who was hit by a driver as a frequent — and often unwelcome — presence at their shop. This is a developing story.
By Matt Skoufalos | February 1, 2024
Eyewitnesses say an unidentified man who was struck while crossing Route 130 in Pennsauken may have been fleeing from police after panhandling in their store.
Pennsauken Fire Chief Jon Hutton confirmed that emergency medical services personnel from the township fire department transported a pedestrian to the trauma unit at Cooper University Hospital in Camden City a little after 5:30 a.m. Thursday morning.
The victim had been hit “multiple times,” and was found in the southbound lane of traffic, Hutton said.
Subsequently, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office (CCPO) confirmed that the victim died from those injuries.
Workers at the Dunkin Donuts in the 5000 block of Marlton Pike said they were on-hand at the time of the crash. They recognized the individual involved, if not by name.
Staff at the coffee shop said the victim was known to them as a local man whose behavior in the store often led them to call police.
Nilda Ortega described near-daily encounters with the man, whom she said aggressively asked staff and customers for money or food, and whom she alleged swiped their tips from the counter.
“He’s very rude,” Ortega said. “He punches our window, slams the door; wants [things] for free.
“The cops come every day for him, tell him to leave,” she said. “He waits for the cops to leave, and comes back. It’s been an ongoing situation with this guy.”
The difference Thursday morning seemed to be that police, allegedly in an effort to curtail the man’s behavior, lingered nearby after an initial encounter.
“[They] waited around the corner, and returned when he came back,” Ortega said.
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Details beyond that point are unclear, but staff at the shop believe that the man was fleeing from police when he darted into the Route 130 roadway and was struck. They also allege that the driver who hit the man did not remain at the scene.
Despite the difficulties of their interactions, “I feel bad that the car hit him,” Ortega said.
None of the details of these accounts have been confirmed by authorities. Pennsauken Police referred all questions to the CCPO, which did not offer comment beyond confirming the initial time, location, and result of the crash.
The investigation is ongoing, and anyone with information about the crash is asked to contact Detective Samuel Funches of the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office at 856-225-8083 or via CAMDEN.TIPS.
If the witness reports are accurate, and the victim was killed during an encounter with police, N.J.S.A. 52:17B-107 requires the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General to investigate the incident, and present all findings to a grand jury. More information is available about the Independent Prosecutor Directive here.
This is a developing story. Stick with NJ Pen for updates.
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