FREEHOLDA female Howell resident has been criminally charged in connection with a fatal three-vehicle crash in mid-January that claimed the life of a 3-year-old girl and injured others, Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced Friday.

Samantha E. Bonora, 31, was charged with one count of first-degree Aggravated Manslaughter and two counts of second-degree Aggravated Assault. Bonora was also charged with Driving Under the Influence, as well as multiple motor vehicle summonses.

On Saturday January 13, 2024, at approximately 4:41 p.m., members of the Howell Police Department were notified of a multiple-car collision that occurred on Highway 34 near the Colts Neck border. The subsequent investigation revealed that Bonora was operating a Dodge Ram pickup truck southbound on Highway 34 in Howell when she travelled into the northbound lane into oncoming traffic.  Driving south in the northbound lane, Bonora’s vehicle collided head-on with an oncoming Jeep Grand Cherokee. The collision caused Bonora’s vehicle to ultimately come to a stop in the northbound lane, where it was then struck by a Ford Bronco via a rear-end collision.

One of the passengers in the Cherokee, a 3-year-old girl, was pronounced deceased at the scene. The driver of the Jeep Cherokee and the other child passenger, a 2-year-old boy, sustained serious injuries and were hospitalized. Bonora, as well as the female passenger of the Jeep and the female driver of the Ford Bronco, sustained minor injuries.

Subsequent investigation revealed that Bonora was under the influence of multiple narcotic substances at the time of the collision.

Bonora was arrested without incident and transported to the Monmouth County Correctional Institute (MCCI), where she is currently being held pending her first appearance at the Monmouth County Superior Court on Wednesday, February 7, 2024.

Anyone with information about this matter is urged to contact Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Agent Reginald Grant at 800-533-7443 or Howell Township Police Officer Daniel Scherbinski at 732-928-4575, Ext. 2663.

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Caitlin J. Sidley of the Major Crimes Bureau. Bonora is represented Paul R. Edinger, Esq., of West Long Branch.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.