Authorities say a two-vehicle crash on a major New Jersey roadway has left three people dead and two others seriously injured.
A 45-year-old man driving an SUV southbound on U.S.Route 9 in Old Bridge when he drifted into the oncoming lanes near County Route 516 and slammed head-on into a gold Honda Accord, police said.
The SUV driver, William M. Fairchild Jr. of Howell Township, and the 37-year-old Accord driver, Hope T. Wells of Freehold, were both killed, police said.
Authorities say Wells was a home health aide for 86-year-old Lillian Kleiman, who was in the Accord along with her son and daughter-in-law visiting from California. Kleiman's son, 62-year-old Charles H. Kleiman of San Rafael, was killed in the crash.
Kleiman and her daughter-in-law, 62-year-old Dorothy Slattery, were taken to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital with injuries.
The crash happened just after 11 a.m., and investigators are still working to piece together what happened and what caused the SUV driver to go into the opposite lanes.
Witnesses said good Samaritans pulled over on the highway to try to help.
"There were people trying to help the guy out of the car and the car started to go on fire," said witness Catherine Murphy, who was working at the Bridge-Way Diner across the street at the time of the crash. "The truck was on fire, they were trying to get him out but I think he was dead already."
She saw two people rescued from the Accord.
"They had to cut the top off that car to get the people out," she said.
It was evident early on that police and fire were responding to multiple fatalities. Witnesses saw the medical examiner take one body away.
Route 9 was shut down in both directions as investigators responded. The roadway partially reopened at about 2 p.m.