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Back-to-back student fatalities stun New Jersey high school

Students, teachers and administrators at a Vineland high school may find it hard to believe that lightning never strikes twice in the same place. In less than a month, two freshman students at Vineland High School North died in car accidents.

In late October, a 14-year-old ninth-grader was killed as she was walking to a school bus stop. The student was struck by two cars. Within two weeks, another 14-year-old died after suffering injuries as a passenger in a car driven by an inexperienced driver.

Police said a 17-year-old was behind the wheel of a Chevrolet Malibu that spun out of control and struck a parked truck. The teen who died was one of five people in the car. The rest were hospitalized with less-than-severe injuries.

Authorities said the teen received his driver’s license only two weeks before the nighttime fatality. Investigators reported that the driver had been speeding before the collision. The teen driver also may have been breaking the state’s graduated driver’s license law by transporting multiple passengers. Charges may be filed pending the investigation’s outcome.

The graduated driver’s license law has been in effect in New Jersey since 2001. Lawmakers later fortified the legislation with a teen driver curfew and restrictions on electronic devices and the number of passengers allowed in the vehicle. Identifying decals were added to cars driven by teens to aid law enforcement.

State transportation officials reported more than a 40 percent drop in teen traffic accident deaths in the decade after the law was enacted. Despite the encouraging news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not wavered on its claim that motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of teen deaths.

The statistics do not console Bergen County parents whose teens were severely injured or died in accidents. Liability claims, however, can relieve the financial weight that accident victims and families carry. Damages are available in civil courts for victims of driver negligence.

 

Source: 
abclocal.go.com, “Vineland High School North mourns 2nd teen death in 2 weeks” No author given, Nov. 13, 2013

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