High-on-heroin Driver Gets 30 Years for Gas Station Crash in Wayne, NJ
WAYNE — A man who killed a father, son and a gas station attendant when he plowed into a gas station while high on heroin in 2019 was sentenced to three consecutive 10-year sentences during an emotional hearing on Thursday.
Jason Vanderee admitted in November that he had purchased heroin in Paterson on Feb 19, 2019, and ingested it as he drove on Route 23, causing him to lose consciousness and lose control of the car, according to Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes.
Vanderee admitted that at the time of the collision he was under the influence of heroin, fentanyl, alprazolam, and cocaine.
Vanderee's car went airborne and struck two vehicles parked at the pumps before slamming into the Delta gas station.
Jon Warbeck and his son Luke, 17, were in one of the vehicles and were killed along with attendant Lovedeep Fatra. Three females in the other vehicle were not injured.
Vanderee pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree aggravated manslaughter as well as driving under the influence.
Vanderee must serve 85% of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole. Additionally, each count carries five years of parole supervision, which will also run consecutively for a total of 15 years of parole supervision after his release from prison.
An unforgivable decision
Before the judge handed down the sentence, Luke Warbeck's sister, Linda Riveros, told the court that Vanderees's decision to take drugs while he drove was selfish and chided him for blaming the system.
"The decision to not wait 20 minutes to get home was selfish. And at this point in my life, unforgivable," Riveros said.
Vanderee's attorney, John Bruno Jr., said that Vanderee had been in and out of rehab over the past several years, the most recent time a week before the crash, according to NorthJersey.com coverage of the hearing. Vanderee was denied a shot of Vivitrol because he was late to the appointment, which contributed to his use before the crash, according to his attorney.
Assistant Prosecutor Julie Serfess said Vanderee already made plans to purchase heroin before missing the appointment.
"If I could, I would give my life a thousand times over to bring them back," Vanderee told the judge during Thursday's sentencing. "And they woke me up and I told them 'why'd you save me. Why couldn't you save them?' I still wish that. It's not fair."
His mother told the court her son is not a monster and he was sorry for everything that happened.
Lives lost at the gas station
Jon Warbeck was about to celebrate his 51st birthday according to NorthJersey.com. His son Luke was a junior at Boonton High School and had obtained his driver's license a month before the crash.
Fatra was working at the station in order to send money home to his family in India, according to Hassan D. Khan, who ran a nearby store.
Fatra had moved to the United States a little less than two years before the crash, according to his uncle. He was expecting to start a new job as a truck driver.
"Most of the Punjabi guys from India that I come across are all very loyal to their job. They come here for the American dream. They work hard every single day. He was definitely moving up," Khan said.