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New Jersey teen driver survives crash that killed friend

Age and maturity don't always coincide. Bergen County teens may be old enough to have driving privileges, but that's no guarantee they're fully prepared for the responsibilities that go with a license. Negligent drivers are the first to say they never meant to cause an accident, an injury or death.

One Ocean County teen is dead and another is hospitalized in critical condition, following a Toms River car accident. The Honda Accord an 18-year-old male was driving was the only vehicle in the early morning crash.

Police said the driver blew through a stop sign and lost control. The Accord vaulted over a curb and headed into a wooded area, where the car hit a tree. The 19-year-old front passenger died at the scene. The survivor had to be cut from the wreckage.

The police investigation is incomplete. No charges have been filed so far. Investigators did not mention in reports whether speeding, drugs or alcohol were suspected.

The two teens were football teammates in high school, where the athletes were coached by the older boy's father. The friends graduated together in spring 2013 from Monsignor Donovan High School.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation reported 33 teens died in state auto accidents in 2010. Fourteen passengers and 19 teen drivers were killed. Traffic crashes rank higher than any other cause of death for U.S. teens, ages 16 to 20.

A young person's death is a life unfulfilled. The opportunities to start or finish college, succeed in a career, become a parent and enjoy adulthood are erased. Left behind are grieving parents, siblings and bewildered friends.

Many families are unprepared for the financial toll associated with a loved one's death. A wrongful death claim allows close family members to request damages for a relative's final medical expenses and funeral costs, as well as quality-of-life losses suffered in the decedent's permanent absence.

Source: Asbury Park Press, "Monsignor Donovan High School graduate dies in Toms River crash" Gina Columbus and Brett Bodner, Feb. 09, 2014

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