Two face charges nearly a year after Jason Ray's death

Updated: January 18, 2008, 3:58 PM ET
By Wayne Drehs | ESPN.com

Two men were arrested and charged Thursday for the accident that eventually killed Jason Ray, the 21-year-old former University of North Carolina mascot, who was in New Jersey as the Tar Heels played in the NCAA East Regional.

More on Ray

Take a look back at the E:60 and ESPN.com stories on the death of 21-year-old North Carolina mascot Jason Ray. • E:60's Ray of hope
• E:Ticket on Jason Ray
• E:60 Home

More: Oprah Winfrey speaks with ESPN's Lisa Salters about Ray's story, Thursday on The Oprah Winfrey Show (check local listings)

Gagik Hovsepyan, 52, of Paramus, N.J. and his 25-year-old son Armen Hovsepian, also of Paramus, were charged, Bergen County prosecutor John Molinelli announced.

Armen Hovsepian was charged with one count of driving while suspended in a fatal motor vehicle accident and one count of hindering apprehension. Molinelli said he faces as much as five years in prison. Gagik Hovsepyan was charged with one count of hindering apprehension, one count of obstructing administration of law and one count of making a false statement under oath. Molinelli said he faces up to 18 months in prison.

Both defendants were arraigned Thursday night. Armen Hovsepian is being held in the Bergen County Jail. Gagik Hovsepyan was free on $10,000 bail.

Following up

Since Jason Ray's story first appeared on ESPN, his parents Emmitt and Charlotte Ray have traveled from Arizona to New York to Florida to share their son's story as well and talk about the gift of organ donation.

According to David Flemming, president of Donate Life America, Ray's story has likely been responsible for helping register more than 46,000 new organ donors, a number that could result in saving the lives of more than 163,000 people.

Next week, the National Consortium for Academics and Sport will honor Ray with one of its,"Giant Steps" Awards. And in February, the Ray family is being honored by the New Jersey Sharing Network, the organ procurement organization that handled Jason's case.

"It just amazes us how this story continues to touch people," Emmitt said. "Jason would be so incredibly proud."

-- Wayne Drehs

"We always knew something wasn't right," said Emmitt Ray, Jason's father. "And yet we've spent almost the last year waiting for answers. So hopefully this is the first step in the process of finding out exactly what happened to our son on that terrible, terrible day."

According to the results from a joint investigation between the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office Major Crimes Squad and the Fort Lee Police Department, Ray was walking in the shoulder of the eastbound lanes of Route 4, not far from the Fort Lee Hilton where Ray and the North Carolina men's basketball team were staying when he was struck by a vehicle driven by Armen Hovsepian.

According to police, when police arrived, Gagik Hovsepyan told Fort Lee police investigators that he had been driving the car and his son was a passenger. The crime scene investigation revealed no criminal activity and the collision was determined to be accidental. But an eyewitness from outside the country later refuted the claim that Gagik was driving the car, police said. And it was later discovered that Armen Hovespian, Molinelli said, was driving on a suspended license at the time of the accident.

"The witness gave a statement that night," Molinelli said. "But it wasn't until the last few months that we were really able to clear things out and determine what happened."

Wayne Drehs is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at wayne.drehs@espn3.com.