Mark Freda spends his days as the mayor of Princeton and the President of the Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad. Now, he’s a defendant in a car crash lawsuit.
On Nov. 7, 2021, Freda was involved in a high-speed chase that resulted in two fatalities. The crash occurred when 15-year-old driver Damajia Jenay “Majia” Horner — while operating a stolen car — crashed into 61-year-old Jodi Marcou, a Rutgers administrator. They were traveling along Route 27 (Princeton-Kingston Road, known as Nassau Street) near Lake Carnegie. The drivers of both cars passed away, according to court documents.
The family of the Rutgers official, Jodi Marcou, filed a lawsuit alleging that Freda bears some responsibility in the crash. The suit was originally filed in Middlesex County in June 2022, though Freda was not added to the suit until July 2023.
As a member of the emergency services squad in the Princeton area, Freda activated his blue light on his vehicle and pursued the stolen vehicle, the suit alleges. Court documents filed by Marcou’s family further allege that Freda had no authority to activate his blue light to pursue the stolen vehicle. The suit states that Freda should have reasonably known that activating his blue light “would initiate, engage, cause and/or result in a dangerous response … with the vehicle being operated by [the] defendant.”
The lawsuit claims that Freda’s actions in engaging in a high-speed chase with the stolen vehicle “were in direct conflict with the policies and procedures of the Municipality [of] Princeton, the Princeton Police Department, and the Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad.”
Marcou’s lawyer, Nicholas J. Leonardis, told NJ.com that he could not comment on many details, but said their investigation of the incident shows Freda had “significant involvement in the matter.”
Freda was elected in 2020 with 99.23 percent of the vote with no opponents. In a 2021 interview with the ‘Prince,’ Freda listed his top priorities as balancing the role of mayor with his other responsibilities and increasing the transparency and openness of city government.
The lawsuit is currently a civil action complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey Law Division in Middlesex County.
Freda’s lawyers did not respond to a request for comment.
Lia Opperman is an associate News editor for the ‘Prince.’
Ryan Konarska is an associate Data editor and staff News writer for the ‘Prince.’
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