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Northern New Jersey's Route 15 sees tragic drunk driving accident

When a drunk driver makes the unfortunate decision to get behind the wheel, they risk the health and safety of both innocent motorists and those riding in the car with them. In fact, in many situations, these passengers may have no idea how intoxicated the driver actually is until it's too late.

This very well could have been the case this past Saturday when a tragic drunk driving accident on Route 15 in Jefferson left four people dead and five others with personal injuries.

Police records indicate that at least two dozen friends and family members -- including the accident victims and the 37-year-old driver -- gathered at New Jersey's Tomahawk Lake on Saturday afternoon for a barbeque celebrating the birthday of a teenage family member.

In an arrest affidavit filed after the car crash, the driver indicated that he consumed beer throughout the celebration and that when he took command of his sport utility vehicle packed with eight other people, he was "probably twice the legal limit."

The driver goes on to state that he was speeding along the unfamiliar twists and turns of Route 15, when he swerved to pass another vehicle and lost control of the SUV, which ended up rolling over and crashing directly into a home.

Tragically, four passengers -- including an 11-year-old girl, a 36-year-old woman five months pregnant and a 62-year-old woman, all of whom were related -- died in the crash, while the driver and other passengers suffered varying degrees of personal injuries.

"They were wonderful people," said a family member. "It’s just a tragedy, losing four members in the family at the same time. I can’t believe it. We are all in shock. Everybody is numb."

The driver was later arrested and charged with several counts each of vehicular homicide, aggravated manslaughter and assault by auto.

It's extremely important for people who have suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one in a car accident caused by a drunk driver to understand that they do have rights and that they can hold those who caused them unimaginable harm accountable in a court of law.

Source: The Star-Ledger, "Driver in car accident who killed three members of one family allegedly admits to drinking," Dan Goldberg and Ryan Hutchins, August 25, 2013

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