Prosecutor: Man was released through bail reform prior to crash that killed baby

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Prosecutors say that a man accused in a hit-and-run crash that killed a 1-year-old boy on his birthday had been released from jail earlier that day through the state’s bail reform program.

Ronald Rebernik is accused of running down a family as they walked outside in Raritan Borough on the evening of July 7. Domitila Rosales was pushing her 1-year-old son Matias Ortega in a stroller and walking with her 5-year-old son Daniel when they were hit by a truck allegedly driven by Rebernik.

Matias was killed and Domitila and Daniel were injured.

Officials say that Rebernik was intoxicated at the time.

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Prosecutors also said that Rebernik was arrested earlier that day on drug charges. He was allegedly found with heroin and crack cocaine hours before the crash, but was let go due to the state’s bail reform laws.

The Raritan Borough Police Department declined comment on Rebernik's release on drug charges earlier in the day July 7. An assistant prosecutor said in court that Rebernik did not appear to be intoxicated during that earlier arrest.

A Somerset County judge on Tuesday rejected a request by Rebernik’s attorney to remain out of jail until trial.

“These are very serious offenses that resulted in the death of a child, a 1-year-old child, on his birthday,” said assistant prosecutor Natasha Despinos-Peavey.

The family of baby Matias attended the court hearing. They said that they are glad that he will remain in jail.

“I want him to pay for what he did to my family,” says Lorenzo Ortega, the baby’s father.

Matias’s funeral will be held Thursday morning.

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