🔴 Charles Sharkey Jr., of Jackson, was using his cell phone, police say

🔴 The rental pickup was reported stolen

🔴 A child injured in the crash was hospitalized in critical condition

TOMS RIVER — Moments after an erratic driver was reported to police Thursday afternoon, a U-Haul pickup hit a car at a red light, overturned and burst into flames, seriously injuring a child in the car.

The driver, Charles Sharkey, Jr., 33, of Jackson, had taken the 2022 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup from a U-Haul rental location without permission, was driving on a suspended license and had two warrants out for his arrest, according to Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer.

Billhimer said Sharkey was heading east on Route 70 around 4 p.m. while using his cell phone and did not stop for a red light at the intersection with Massachusetts Avenue in Toms River. Sharkey grazed the back of a 2016 Honda CRV and hit a 2017 Subaru Impreza as he tried to make a left turn.

The impact caused the Impreza to be pushed backward and spin around and the pickup to flip onto the driver's side and catch fire, according to Billhimer. A fourth vehicle, a 2021 Lexus RX 350, was also grazed.

Billhimer did not disclose the identities of anyone in the other vehicles.

Crash on Route 70 at Massachusetts Avenue in Toms River 3/23/23
Crash on Route 70 at Massachusetts Avenue in Toms River 3/23/23 (OCSN)

A child in critical condition

The adult and children in the Impreza were taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center. One of the children remained hospitalized Friday morning in critical condition.

Sharkey was taken to Monmouth Medical Center-Southern Campus in Lakewood. Police obtained a warrant to draw blood for a blood alcohol test.

Sharkey is being held at the Ocean County jail on four counts of aggravated assault, four counts of assault by auto, unlawful taking of a means of conveyance, causing death or injury while driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license and multiple motor vehicle summons. Additional charges could be added, according to the prosecutor.

Route 70 was closed in both directions for several hours Thursday afternoon.

Crash on Route 70 at Massachusetts Avenue in Toms River 3/23/23
Crash on Route 70 at Massachusetts Avenue in Toms River 3/23/23 (OCSN)

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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