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Arrest Made In Route 17 Bicyclist Hit/Run In Rutherford

Jorge A. Velasquez Ruiz
Jorge A. Velasquez Ruiz Photo Credit: MUGSHOT: Courtesy BERGEN COUNTY SHERIFF

RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Fatal accident investigators from the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office and Rutherford police tracked down and charged a Belleville man who they said took off after his car struck a bicyclist on a Route 17 media last Thursday night.

Jorge A. Velasquez Ruiz, 48, was being held on $100,000 bail in the Bergen County Jail, charged with aggravated assault, assault by auto, leaving the scene of a crash with serious bodily injury, endangering an injured victim and hindering his apprehension.

Velasquez Ruiz was taken into custody and his damaged 2004 Saturn Ion impounded after investigators, acting on a tip, found him in Belleville yesterday, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said this afternoon, confirming an earlier CLIFFVIEW PILOT story.

"Inspection of the vehicle showed the windshield had been recently replaced but there was still evidence of it having been the involved vehicle," Molinelli said.

The 32-year-old victim was headed from New York City to Pennsylvania when he stopped on the median between the southbound highway and the north service road near the Route 3 interchange to tend to a mechanical problem, Police Chief John Russo told CLIFFVIEW PILOT at the time.

The driver was in the center lane and “tried to make a last-ditch attempt to merge onto the service road by cutting across the median” when his red sedan with Maryland license plates hit the victim around 10:10 p.m., Russo said.

The cyclist landed on the hood, smashing the windshield, the chief said.

The driver then “backed up and took off towards the [Rutherford] north service road and local streets,” Russo said.

Witnesses told police the sedan sustained front-end damage along with the broken windshield.

The victim, who's from Bronson, Mich., was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center, where he remained today with serious head and leg injuries.

Velasquez also was issued summonses for reckless driving, unsafe lane changing and leaving the scene of an accident involving injuries. A Sept. 15 arraignment was scheduled.

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