Police are searching for a vehicle they say may have contributed to a fatal accident that killed three people on the New Jersey Turnpike last week.
Three members of a Stone Mountain, Georgia family were killed Thursday when their car was crushed by a tractor-trailer on the New Jersey Turnpike in Mount Laurel, Burlington County.
Investigators say Ainsworth Mallett, 51, Jacqueline Mallett, 49, and their son Drew, 12, died in the collision. The Mallett's 18-year-old daughter, Nicole, survived the wreck and was transported to Cooper University Hospital with non life-threatening injuries. Police say the family's dog also died in the accident.
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The four-vehicle crash, which closed the southbound lane at milepost 39.9 -- below Exit 5 -- for more than five hours, happened shortly after 10 a.m. on Thursday when a big rig hit the family's silver Toyota Camry from behind and bumped a Ford Edge, police said.
As the tractor-trailer jackknifed, the Camry was crushed and it appears it pushed into another tractor-trailer.
Troopers shut down the center and right lanes for several hours. All lanes were reopened around 2:30 p.m.
Ryan Paul, who lives about 100 yards from the crash site, heard a tire pop.
"All of a sudden you see out of nowhere there’s like 20 state troopers like five fire trucks, and you’re like 'was it that bad an accident?' And then you hear there’s three people dead and you’re like it’s that bad an accident," Paul told NBC10.
On Monday, police announced they are trying to find a vehicle that may have contributed to causing the crash. Police say they're searching for a a white or light gold, small SUV with an orange and blue New York license plate. The driver of the vehicle is a woman with blonde hair who was in the car alone, according to investigators.
Witnesses told police the woman was in the center lane and may have come to a complete stop in traffic. She tried to make a hard left through the small breaks in the median immediately before the crash, according to witnesses. Police believe the woman's actions may have caused traffic to slow which led to the accident.
If you have any information on the driver's identity, please call the New Jersey State Police Morristown station at 856-235-1028.
The cause of the accident is under investigation.