A New Jersey school district closed Tuesday to mourn the sudden passing of its superintendent who was struck and killed while out for a jog with his dog by a student driving to school for a class trip.
"With a heavy heart, we share with you devastating news that our beloved Dr. Steven Mayer, Superintendent of Schools passed away (Tuesday) morning from a tragic accident," said a message posted to the Robbinsville Schools website.
A 17-year-old senior on her way to Robbinsville High School for a class trip struck Mayer as he jogged along Robbinsville Edinburg Road with his dog early Tuesday, said township Mavyor David Fried and Robbinsville police. Mayer's dog was also struck by the vehicle. The teen stopped at the scene immediately and a nearby homeowner called 911. Both Mayer and his dog died from their injuries.
"Dr. Mayer was beloved by our community, he was our superintendent, he was our coach, he was our friend, he was one of our residents," said Fried.
Fried said he tried reaching out to Mayer after first hearing about the crash, not realizing he was the one who was struck.
"As soon as we heard we had an accident this morning he was the first person that I texted to find out how we were going to handle it," Fried said.
No word yet if the teenage girl will face any charges.
Fried asked everyone "to pray" for both Mayer's and the student's families.
Mayer left behind three sons -- two are in college, one is a junior at the high school -- and his wife who teaches at Sharon Elementary School, said Fried.
The crash left the community in total shock, said Fried. Mayer led the district's three schools with nearly 3,000 students for the past six years. He was also a little league coach.
The community came together Tuesday night for a candlelight vigil in Mayer's memory at 7 p.m. at the gazebo at Foxmoor Park -- across from the Foxmoor Shopping Plaza along Route 33. More than 500 people attended the event.
"How do you make sense of a nonsensical situation," asked Robbinsville Council President Ron Witt. "I was at a loss for words. I still expect to wake up from a bad dream and clearly that's the case. It's just a tragedy."
Mourners placed candles alongside flowers and wrote messages to Dr. Mayer's family on index cards.
"We all care," said Ruxaldra Barb of Robbinsville. "And he cared about us and cared about the community."
Teammates of Mayer's son attended the vigil in their Lacrosse uniforms to show solidarity in their support.
"Such a great family and such a tragic event," said Mike Sanguinetti, a Robbinsville student. "I think all the people out here speak to the impact he had on this town."
All Robbinsville schools will be closed Wednesday as well though grief counselors will be available.