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2 Coast Guard cadets killed, 3 injured in New Jersey crash

It takes seconds for a car to drift across a centerline into the path of oncoming traffic. Accident investigations conducted by law enforcers, insurance companies and legal firms determine how and why crashes like these happen. The determination of fault can lead to criminal charges, and in independent legal actions, civil claims against negligent drivers.

New Jersey authorities have not speculated on the reason for a recent Hopewell Township car accident. The two-vehicle crash claimed the lives of two U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadets and injured three other victims. The men who died were passengers in a southbound vehicle driven by a 21-year-old man, also a cadet.

The cadets' vehicle collided with a Ford Focus on the northbound side of Route 31 near midnight. The cadet passenger in the front seat died at the scene of the crash. The cadet in the rear seat was pronounced dead later at a hospital.

The surviving cadet and the occupants of the Ford Focus, a 28-year-old male driver and 27-year-old female passenger from Flanders, were hospitalized. The woman was listed in fair condition, but the medical statuses of the other survivors were not reported nor were specific details about the victims' injuries.

Vehicles end up in opposite travel lanes for many reasons – a driver miscalculates speed and the sharpness of a curve or turns across traffic. Bergen County drivers may move out of a lane due to distractions from passenger conversations or the use of electronic devices. The influence of alcohol or drugs also robs drivers of the ability to operate a vehicle safely.

Negligence occurs when New Jersey drivers disregard a duty of care to passengers and others on the road. Juries in liability cases assess a driver's behavior at the time of an injury accident or fatality. A court could determine the defendant's actions were reasonable or conversely careless, reckless or intentional.

Source: NJ.com, "2 men killed in Hopewell crash were cadets at U.S. Coast Guard Academy" James McEvoy, Times of Trenton, Mar. 09, 2015

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