Family members have identified one of the three teens who died after an SUV that was allegedly stolen from a popular eatery crashed into a pole and caught fire in Tabernacle, New Jersey on Monday.
The 1999 green GMC Yukon struck a pole at Flyatt and Carranza roads shortly before noon. The vehicle caught fire and three people died from their injuries, state police said. Family members identified the driver who died as 18-year-old Xavier Wells of Burlington City, New Jersey. An 18-year-old girl who was Wells' friend as well as Wells' 16-year-old girlfriend were the other two victims.
The vehicle was stolen around noon Monday from the Pic-A-Lilli Inn about 6-½ miles away on U.S. Route 206 in Shamong, state police said.
Troopers spotted the SUV traveling away from the restaurant as they responded to the stolen vehicle call, prompting them to turn around and follow the vehicle, state police said.
State police said the SUV then sped up and began driving erratically. The vehicle crashed a short distance later.
The crash occurred near the Sequoia Alternative Program, which is part of the Lenape Regional School District, on Carranza Road. More than 50 students and employees from the program were evacuated due to roads being closed in the area. The students and staff were taken to a transportation yard about 5 miles away where parents picked their children up.
While State Police say they followed the stolen SUV, they didn't reveal whether they activated lights and sirens. They also didn't reveal how fast they were going or how long the pursuit lasted.
Wells' family members said he recently attended Burlington City High School but he didn't have a car or a driver's license.
Police continue to investigate.