A Toms River woman has been arrested and charged with DWI and having a Blood Alcohol Content three times the legal limit when she struck a man who had stepped out of his vehicle to retrieve something on the side of Bay Avenue on February 8.

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced Wednesday that on February 16, 2022, Ashley Beams, 31, of Toms River has also been charged with Aggravated Manslaughter, Vehicular Homicide, Reckless Driving, Failure to Maintain Lane, Careless Driving, Failure to Wear a Seatbelt, and Strict Liability Vehicular Homicide in connection to a motor vehicle crash that later claimed the life of James Cruz, 62, of the Parlin section of Old Bridge Township.

On the night of the accident, just before 10:30 pm, Beams was driving east on Bay Avenue heading towards Twin Oaks Drive, but after passing that street, she went off the road and into the shoulder where she hit Cruz, who was outside of his vehicle at that time picking something up that came out of his trunk, according to the investigation by Toms River Police, the Ocean County Prosecutors Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, and the Ocean County Sheriff's Crime Scene Investigation Unit.

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When Beams hit Cruz, he became pinned between the two vehicles and ended up being carried as a result of the hit, a significant distance east along Bay Avenue.

Police said that he was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Beams was brought to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune for treatment of her injuries, and for a draw of blood.

Prosecutor Billhimer said that the blood draw revealed that Beams had a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .32 % and that in New Jersey, an operator of a motor vehicle is presumed to be over the legal limit for purposes of alcohol consumption where his/her BAC is .08 or greater.

On Wednesday, Beams was arrested by Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit at her residence and charged.

Beams was brought to the Ocean County Jail, where she remains pending a detention hearing.

(Photo Courtesy: Ocean County Prosecutor's Office)
(Photo Courtesy: Ocean County Prosecutor's Office)
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