Man who started fire that killed child in NJ gets 3 years

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — A New Jersey man who acknowledged tossing lit matches in an apartment, sparking a fire that killed an infant and damaged dozens of buildings, has been sentenced to three years in prison.

The Jersey Journal reports 20-year-old Edwin Diaz was sentenced on Friday in Hudson County on a reckless manslaughter plea in the March 2017 death of 1-year-old Eddie Gonzalez Jr.

Diaz says he was in the Union City apartment with the boy’s father and they were lighting matches and tossing them on a cousin sleeping on a couch, which caught fire. He and the child’s father were smoking marijuana in a bathroom when the fire broke out.

Diaz has apologized, saying there isn’t a day he doesn’t think “of the innocent child we lost that night.” The boy’s father pleaded guilty to the same charge and was sentenced earlier to five years in prison.

“They were trying to get the kid out, [the mother] was asking for help but they couldn’t but it was too intense,” Daniel Peek, a witness, said at the time.

The child died. His father, Eddie Gonzalez Sr., sustained burns while trying to rescue his son.

“When he hit the window the flames came out and his back was on fire,” Peek said.


PIX11 contributed to this report