Police ID Teen Victims of Fatal Collision With NJ Transit Bus - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Police ID Teen Victims of Fatal Collision With NJ Transit Bus



    Police have identified the victims of a fatal crash involving a car and NJ Transit bus. NBC10's Cydney Long speaks to heartbroken family members. (Published Tuesday, May 27, 2014)

    Police have identified the three teenagers who were killed on Memorial Day after a car collided with an NJ Transit bus in Pleasantville, NJ.

    Tevin Campbell, 18, of Absecon, Kira Strider, 14, of Pleasantville and Amber Fernandez, 16, of Pleasantville, all died in the accident.

    Investigators say 18-year-old Melissa Rodriguez of Pleasantville was driving on Monday, around 1:50 p.m. northbound on Franklin Boulevard. Six passengers, including Fernandez, Campbell and Strider, were inside the vehicle at the time.

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    As she was driving, police say an NJ Transit bus, driven by 69-year-old Carmen Mazzagatti Jr. of Galloway Township, was also traveling on Franklin Boulevard near the intersection of Old Turnpike Road.

    According to investigators, Rodriguez suddenly crossed the center line and struck the bus head-on.

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    "For some odd reason the red car crossed over the center line and it was a head-on collision with the bus," said Sergeant Emory Silipigni of the Pleasantville Police Department. "The bus tried to swerve out of the way but was unsuccessful."

    As the bus swerved in an attempt to escape the collision, the vehicle barreled down a sidewalk towards pedestrians who narrowly avoided being struck.

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    "I really feel thankful to be alive," said Michael Almeyda. "It just kept coming closer to me."

    Campbell and Strider were pronounced dead at the scene. Fernandez was taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead shortly after midnight.

    Rodriguez and the three surviving passengers were all taken to the AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center for treatment.

    Mazzagatti, along with eight passengers on his bus were also injured in the crash and taken to the hospital for treatment. They were later released.

    While North Franklin Boulevard is a 25 mph zone, witnesses tell NBC10 they believe Rodriguez was traveling around 60 mph moments before the collision.

    "Why were you in a rush?" asked Carlos Yanes, the brother-in-law of one of the victims. "Where did you have to go so bad that you had to speed down this road of all places?"

    Angelica Sheppard, the sister of two of the survivors, one of whom is in a coma, told NBC10 she believes Rodriguez only had a provisional license.

    "She wasn't even supposed to have that many people in the car," Sheppard said. "She had six people."

    Investigators have not yet confirmed whether or not Rodriguez was speeding or if she only had a provisional license. They are currently reviewing surveillance video which shows the car driving down Franklin Boulevard moments before the crash.