An off-duty Newark police officer and his father, a lieutenant with the Newark police force, have been indicted in connection with a pedestrian death they are accused of trying to cover up.

Damian Dymka, a 29-year-old nurse from Garfield, was struck and killed by Officer Louis Santiago while walking on the shoulder of the Garden State Parkway early Nov. 1, 2021, according to Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens.

Dymka was coming home from a Halloween party around 3 a.m., Stephens said.

nurse Damian Dymka was struck and killed along the Parkway on Nov. 1, 2021 (GoFundMe via Miranda Stone)
Nurse Damian Dymka was struck and killed along the Parkway on Nov. 1, 2021 (GoFundMe via Miranda Stone)

He had misplaced his cellphone and was walking on the shoulder of the highway in Bloomfield when 25-year-old Officer Santiago, who had been drinking, struck and killed him in his personal car, according to prosecutors.

Santiago’s 26-year-old cousin, Albert Guzman, of Newark, was a passenger and has also been charged.

Instead of immediately calling 911, they are both accused of driving away to the Santiago family residence, where they met with Lt. Luis Santiago.

The younger Santiago then returned to the scene and put Dymka’s body in his car, driving off, after which Lt. Santiago eventually arrived at the scene of the crash and called 911, according to Stephens.

Following the emergency call, the younger Santiago is accused of returning to the scene of the crash and unloading Dymka’s body shortly before State Police arrived.

Newark Police Lt. Luis Santiago (Newark Police)
Newark Police Lt. Luis Santiago (Newark Police)

An Essex County grand jury returned a 16-count indictment on July 15, charging the younger Santiago with vehicular homicide, knowingly leaving the scene of a fatal car crash, unlawfully disturbing human remains, causing death while driving under the influence of alcohol, endangering an injured victim, tampering with evidence, hindering prosecution and multiple counts of conspiracy.

The indictment specifically accuses the younger Santiago of deleting phone data, tampering with the crime scene, failing to call emergency aid, and lying to law enforcement.

Both the younger Santiago and Guzman have been charged with multiple counts of conspiracy to desecrate human remains, hinder prosecution, and tamper with evidence.

The younger Santiago has also been charged with two counts of official misconduct.

Guzman was charged with hindering the prosecution of another for the crime of leaving the scene of a motor vehicle crash resulting in death by concealing or destroying evidence.

The elder Santiago has been indicted for hindering the prosecution of another for the crime of leaving the scene of a motor vehicle crash resulting in death by providing false information to police on the morning of the incident.

The elder Santiago was also indicted for official misconduct by failing to properly summon emergency aid for a motor vehicle accident involving an injured person.

Officer Santiago’s mother, Annette Santiago, was originally charged, but the grand jury declined to indict her. All charges against the 53-year-old have been dismissed.

A GoFundMe campaign set up for Dymka's family has collected more than $20,000 in donations to help pay for legal fees "to ensure Damian gets the justice he is entitled to, without putting his family under any undue financial strain."

As of Thursday, both Officer Santiago and Lt. Santiago were indefinitely suspended without pay from the Newark Police Department, according to authorities.

Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at

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A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.

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I asked our listeners for their suggestions of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions:

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