Careless smoking sparked a house fire that killed four people in a quiet residential neighborhood in southern New Jersey early Tuesday, authorities said.
Improperly discarded smoking material in a wastebasket ignited the 3 a.m. blaze in the Red Bank section of Middletown that killed a mother, her sister and daughter, and the daughter's boyfriend, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office. Only the husband and father of the house survived.
Neighbor Ted Magee says his wife heard the survivor cry out, "My wife! My daughter! Somebody help us!''
The victims have been identified as 63-year-old Sheridan Banovich; her daughter, Deidre Banovich, 23; Deidre's 25-year-old boyfriend, Anthony Cadalzo; and Sheridan Banovich's sister, 60-year-old Denise Dusold.
Neighbors said 63-year-old Stephen Banovich, the lone survivor of the blaze, was pacing across the lawn as his house burned, screaming for help. But the fire was too intense for anyone to enter the home.
According to Cadalzo's Facebook page, he is "in a relationship" with Deidre Banovich and attended Keansburg High School in Monmouth County. Deidre's Facebook page indicates she went to Collier High School and attended Brookdale Community College, also in Monmouth County.
TV footage showed authorities removing one body from the badly charred, two-story home, mere blocks away from the volunteer fire department and within walking distance of an elementary school.