10 years after fatal hit-and-run in North Bergen, victim’s family still seeks closure

More than a decade after a hit and run in North Bergen killed beloved bodybuilder Omar Monroig, his family is still searching for closure.

On March 23, 2012, Omar was hit by an early 2000s Toyota Camry as he crossed 51st Street and Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen while going for a drink at a local Cuban restaurant with a friend. . Although badly injured, the 42-year-old sometimes looked like he was on the mend and his family hoped he would.

In an interview with the Hudson Reporter, Omar’s brother, Jorge, said he survived longer than most people. Following the accident, Omar had broken bones in his neck, two broken legs, a broken shoulder and internal bleeding.

“Omar was a bull that wanted to live,” Jorge said. “It took him eight days to succumb to his injuries. Most people don’t survive that long.

However, Omar eventually died of his injuries a few days later on April 1, 2012. His killer, the driver of the car that night, remains at large.

Omar was 42 when he died.

10 year cold case

Although there was traffic camera footage of the fatal hit-and-run, it was of poor quality due to the darkness in the area; only the vehicle could be identified, not the license plate. The family was able to obtain the video thanks to a private investigator who sent it to be improved in Alabama. However, the establishment sent it back for free because nothing could be done to prevent the pixels from degrading further. That means it couldn’t be improved and Jorge and the family were back to square one.

In March 2017, five years after the fatal hit-and-run that claimed Omar’s life, the statute of limitations for driving manslaughter charges in the case expired, the North Bergen Police Department confirmed. to the Hudson Reporter at the time. However, Jorge said he wanted to know more about the statute of limitations for the case and contacted a lawyer for more information.

Either way, Jorge and the family urged the driver of the vehicle or anyone with information on who it might be to come forward. He said the case was still unsolved, although the family remained hopeful that they could one day resolve the issue.

“We hope that one day someone will come forward because we want those answers that we never got overnight,” Jorge said. “When Omar died, we didn’t know why that person didn’t quit. This left many questions unanswered. We want to find out who this person is one day. And we also want to shed some light on Omar’s story.

An old photo of Nick, Omar and Marybell.

“A heart bigger than his biceps”

According to Jorge, Omar was very close and dear to those around him.

“Omar was my best friend,” Jorge said. “I didn’t know it at the time because we were brothers, but he really was my best friend. He’s an amazing person. I think about him more all the time. I miss Omar. He loved celebrating birthdays .

It was only days after Omar’s 42nd birthday, March 21, 2012, that he would lose his life. He was actually on his way to celebrate with a friend on March 23 when he was hit by the fleeing driver.

And it wasn’t just his birthday he was enjoying. Omar liked to celebrate the birthdays of others, like Jorge, in the same way.

“Omar loved celebrating birthdays, it was a highlight and something we always enjoyed,” Jorge said. “I loved having dinner with him, breaking bread. Birthdays with him wouldn’t last just a day, it would be almost a week.

Jorge and the rest of Omar’s family have certainly not forgotten him.

“We often think of him,” Jorge said. “We have many portraits of Omar.”

According to Jorge, many people have sent information and positive messages to the family since everything happened. Omar left behind his wife Marybell and their son, Nick. According to Jorge, Nick still lives and works at Butler where they used to live.

“Nick is a chip off the old block,” Jorge said. “He also works as a volunteer firefighter and paramedic.”

Omar could have turned professional if he had won the bodybuilding contest a few weeks before his untimely death.

Aspiring bodybuilder

Along with his love for his family and general kindness, Omar was also known as an up-and-coming semi-professional bodybuilder.

Jorge said what started as a passion and grew exponentially from there. Previously, he was a successful contractor for a cell site tower construction company.

“It started as a hobby,” Jorge said. “He was just good at it.”

Omar was addicted to training, exercising six times a week, twice a day. Jorge said he does cardio during the day and weightlifting at night.

What may have started as a hobby quickly put Omar on the path to turning pro. The Bloomfield Plaza Fitness gym he attended sponsored him as a bodybuilder.

Omar, 42, was just weeks away from the Garden State Classic championships, which were then held in his honor. The 5’11, 256-pound strongman was a professional bodybuilder with a number of titles and trophies in tow from various national bodybuilding competitions, although Omar was not one to brag.

“Omar was one of the favourites,” Jorge said. “Muscle Maker Grill wanted Omar to come by and take pictures. He was one of the favorites for this event.

According to Jorge, Omar’s gentle nature and tall stature made him something of a “gentle giant”. This made the situation all the more bitter as the driver who hit him continued, according to Jorge.

“I want that person to be ashamed of what he did that night because it left a lot of questions unanswered,” Jorge said. “We want to know who was that person driving. We want to know why this person didn’t stop that night. We were amazed that he didn’t stop by that night to help Omar. Leaving like that only made the injury worse. “

A police sketch of the driver suspected of killing Omar Monroig. Image courtesy of North Bergen Police Department.

Still looking for the driver

There are still no leads in the cold case, more than a decade later. The North Bergen Police Department recently dedicated social media to Omar’s memory on the 10th anniversary of his death, also sharing a sketch of the alleged driver that night.

While the case prompted the township to upgrade its cameras to better cope with low light, Jorge is still looking for the driver to come forward. He also wants knowledge of Omar’s case to be shared to hopefully prevent any similar tragedy in the future.

“I know the township of North Bergen has improved their system, but the person should have stopped as well,” Jorge said.

Jorge and his family aren’t giving up on finding out who was behind it, no matter how much time has passed: “We always want to know who did this, no matter how long. We want to shed light on what happened ten years ago. And if that could help change some things where they have better lighting or cameras, like in North Bergen Township, or other similar places, that would be great.

He continued: “We are disappointed that what happened to Omar was never resolved.”

For updates on this story and others, visit www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at [email protected]

Teresa E. Burton