OLD BRIDGE — It was a devastating end to a night out for a family after they crossed paths with suspected car thieves fleeing police early Wednesday morning.

The vehicle carrying Arturo Tlapa Luna, 33, of Freehold, and his family was heading south on Route 9 around 2:15 a.m. when it was struck at the Spring Valley Road intersection in Old Bridge, according to Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone.

Luna was pronounced dead at the scene while his wife, two children, and father were hospitalized.

"Arturo was a kind, generous, and loyal husband, father, brother, son, coworker, and friend. He was so loved and deeply respected by his community. We have lost an amazing human being," according to a GoFundMe page created to assist his family.

WPG Talk Radio 95.5 FM logo
Get our free mobile app

He worked at the Pizza and Pasta Factory on Route 79 in Marlboro.

"It is with the heaviest of hearts that we have to share that we have lost a beloved part of the Pizza and Pasta Factory family. Words can’t begin to describe how much we will miss you," the restaurant wrote on its Facebook page.

Arturo Tlapa Luna
Arturo Tlapa Luna (Antonio Romeo DiSantillo via GoFundMe)
loading...

Casing a neighborhood to steal cars

The driver of the vehicle that caused the crash, Samuel Villar, 19, of Somerset, and a 17-year-old were attempting to burglarize cars in nearby Marlboro, according to Ciccone. Villar took off when Marlboro police responded, leading the officer on a pursuit that ended in Old Bridge.

According to Ciccone, Villar's vehicle had been reported stolen from New Brunswick on October 23.

Villar was arrested and charged with one count of first-degree aggravated manslaughter, four counts of second-degree aggravated assault, one count of second-degree eluding, one count of second-degree employing a juvenile and one count of third-degree theft. Villar is being held at the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center pending a detention hearing.

The 17-year-old was charged with an act of juvenile delinquency for offenses that are the equivalent of third-degree burglary, one count of fourth-degree joyriding, and one count of third-degree conspiracy to commit burglary.

Ciccione asked anyone with information about the crash to contact her office at (732) 745-4328.

25 costliest hurricanes of all time

Although the full extent of damage caused by Hurricane Ian in the Southwest is still being realized, Ian is already being called one of the costliest storms to ever hit the U.S. Stacker took a look at NOAA data to extrapolate the costliest U.S. hurricanes of all time.  

States with the most registered hunters

Stacker analyzed data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine which states have the most registered hunters. Read on to see how your state ranks on Stacker’s list.

More From WPG Talk Radio 95.5 FM