Joseph Crilley is facing five charges, including two counts death by auto, and remains in the Sussex County Jail pending a first hearing this afternoon.

Authorities say a 29-year-old Hampton man was high on fentanyl, heroin, and several other drugs and several empty wax folds were found within the tow truck he was driving, when he crashed into a Honda Civic on Route 15 in August, killing two people.


Joseph Crilley was arrested Tuesday and remained in the county jail today. The New Jersey State Police, via a complaint warrant, charged him with two counts second-degree death by auto, third-degree possession, use or being under the influence of suspected heroin, fourth-degree assault by auto and possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia, a disorderly persons offense.


Sussex County First Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Mueller said it is believed the state has filed a motion to detain Crilley pending trial, which could be heard in state Superior Court in Newton Friday or Monday, but could not immediately verify that.


The incident occurred around 10:30 p.m. on Aug. 5 when Crilley, driving solo in a 2012 Isuzu tow truck in the area of milepost 28.2 on Route 94 south, crossed over the double yellow lines and struck a 1992 Honda Civic hatchback traveling north, according to initial details from police and an affidavit from Crilley’s arrest. The incident occurred near the intersection of Route 15, Route 94 and Sunset Inn Road in Lafayette.


While the identities of those involved in the crash, aside from Crilley, are redacted from the affidavit, police told the New Jersey Herald the driver of the Honda Civic, James Ziniewicz, 43, was pronounced dead at the scene. Bassirou Diaite, 33, of Hamburg, who was a back-seat passenger, was airlifted with serious injuries to Morristown Medical Center. He died at the hospital 26 days after the crash - shortly after 6 a.m. on Aug. 31 - due to the injuries he sustained in the head-on collision, police told the New Jersey Herald.


A front-seat passenger, Alisha Jackson, 31, of Newton, was taken via ambulance to Morristown Medical Center with injuries initially believed to be minor, police said. The affidavit indicates the female occupant in the vehicle - who was the only female involved in the crash - sustained “serious bodily injury” to her face, hip and leg.


Crilley suffered minor injuries and was taken via ambulance to Morristown Medical Center.


Crilley’s tow truck was hauling a 2011 BMW 328 on the flat bed portion and a 2007 Toyota Camry on the rear wheel lift portion, the affidavit states. Police initially said they believed Crilley had not be towing any vehicles.


In the arrest affidavit, police say that numerous wax folds in plain view were located on the driver seat and driver-side floor of the tow truck. Also found inside the truck was a small glass smoking device with suspected heroin residue, the affidavit states.


Following the approval of a search warrant, samples of Crilley’s blood and urine were taken for testing, resulting in positive results for multiple substances, “including but not limited to” fentanyl, norfentanyl, alprazolm (Xanax) and morphine. Norfentanyl is the main metabolite of fentanyl and is the substance that is created when fentanyl breaks down in the body.


A mechanical inspection and a commercial vehicle unit inspection determined the tow truck was in “proper operating conditions,” the affidavit states. Authorities say the tow truck was found to be overweight at the time of the crash.


Crilley, in a statement to police, said he was aware towing two vehicles “affected normal operations,” but said the tow truck was in “poor working condition,” stating that both the brake and anti-lock braking system lights were on at the time of the crash.


Crilley was also issued several motor vehicle summonses including: Reckless driving, failure to maintain lane, drug possession and careless driving.


Crilley has a criminal history, which included a suspension of his license, dating back to at least 2010.


In his most recent conviction, which occurred in Morris County on April 26, 2012, Crilley was sentenced to five years drug court probation, 145 days in jail and a six-month license suspension after pleading guilty to third-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance.


On June 2, 2011, Crilley was initially sentenced to five years drug court probation after pleading guilty to several charges: Third-degree manufacturing/distributing a controlled dangerous substance, third-degree theft by deception, third-degree credit card theft, third-degree receiving stolen property and fourth-degree theft by deception. The charges were combined as part of a plea deal from various arrests that occurred in 2010.


Crilley also has charges stemming from arrests in Passaic County in October 2018 and as recent as June 5, 2019. Details of those charges were not immediately available.


Lori Comstock can also be reached on Twitter: @LoriComstockNJH, on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/LoriComstockNJH or by phone: 973-383-1194.