2 Die as Packed Van Smashes Into Tree

Police have identified one of the two people who were killed after a van slammed into a tree along a South Jersey road Tuesday morning.

Investigators say six people were inside a 2003 Chevrolet van that was traveling northbound on Route 55 in Franklin Township around 6:15 a.m.

According to NJ State Police, the driver of the vehicle somehow lost control and veered off the northbound lanes of the highway, slamming into a tree.

As SkyForce10 hovered overhead a short time later, you could see crews freeing people from the badly-damaged van -- the front-end nearly completely push inward and a door flung off to the side -- and placing them on stretchers.

The driver, who has not yet been identified as well as one of the passengers, 47-year-old Norma Santiago, were both killed in the crash.

Carlos Gonzalez, 31, of Bridgeton, NJ, Regina Fortoso, 25, Jose Santiago, 37, of Bridgeton and Angel Rodriguez, 48, of Vineland were all injured in the accident. They were flown to Cooper University Hospital where they are all currently in critical condition.

According to investigators, only the driver was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident.
Investigators say the victims worked for J. Ambrogi Foods and were heading to the Kristy's Kuts produce processing facility in West Deptford when the accident occurred.  Officials say it was supposed to be Santiago’s first day on the job.

“It has really made a big impact on the people in the room and everybody in our company,” said Jerry Ambrogi, president of J. Ambrogi Foods. “Our hearts and prayers go out to all their friends and their families.”

Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the van to go off the road.

The crash slowed traffic along Route 55 northbound at mile-marker 40 near the U.S. Route 40 interchange. The road remained closed for hours as crews investigated the deadly wreck.

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