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Man, 31, Sentenced In Fatal Crash Involving Former Clarkstown North Athlete

Thomas J. Vanderweit
Thomas J. Vanderweit Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- A judge in Hackensack on Monday sentenced a Saddle Brook man to six years in prison for his part in a road rage crash with a Rockland resident that killed a Teaneck passenger on the Garden State Parkway in Washington Township three years ago.

Thomas Vanderweit, 31, also must pay toward the funeral expenses of 63-year-old Annetta Billingy.

Billingly was in another car with John C. Emili, a power weight-lifter and former Clarkstown North High School football player from New City.

Prosecutors said the Sunday morning incident between Vanderweit and Emili began near the Route 17 exit.

Several witnesses told police that both vehicles were being operated erratically, “making numerous lane changes, tailgating and travelling in excess of the posted speed limit,” State Police said at the time.

Emili had been tailgating Vanderweit’s 2007 Chevy Trail Blazer with his 2004 Honda Pilot when he tried passing him on an exit lane and lost control of the vehicle, an NJSP trooper told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

The SUV careened off the road, hit a guardrail and then hurtled back onto the Parkway, where it overturned and rammed into the side of the Blazer, which left the roadway itself and smashed a guardrail.

Billingy, an unrestrained rear passenger in Emili’s Honda, was ejected,.

A North Star Medi-Vac helicopter landed at the exit ramp and took the woman to Hackensack University Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead,

Emili has yet to be tried.

Vanderweit had his bail revoked on Nov. 4 when a jury found him guilty of vehicular homicide.

“This is a very sad day for this defendant and his family and also a tragedy for the victim who has lost her life,” the judge said Monday.

“There is no one out there driving on the roadways today who has not experienced someone speeding by at 80, 90, 100 miles per hour and to turn to the person next to you and say ‘that guy is going to kill someone.’ It’s frightening," she said.

Foti said speed limits "are there for a reason. They’re there to save lives.”

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