3 dead after car slams into NJ school

Pictured: Pine Beach crash victims Matthew Budesa, Kim VanGorden and Matthew Witzgall.

February 3, 2011 3:50:12 PM PST
Investigators have identified the three people who were killed when their vehicle slammed into a New Jersey elementary school on Thursday.

Police say the driver of the car was Matthew Budesa, 20, of Pine Beach and the son of a local councilman. The passengers are identified as Kimberly VanGorden, 20, of Beachwood and Matt Witzgall, 21, of Toms River.

Deputy Chief Michael Mohel of the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office says the impact from the 2011 Hyundai Accent left a 6-foot-by-6-foot hole in the brick wall adjacent to the Pine Beach Elementary school's media room.

An access road leads right to the point of impact, but there are no skid marks anywhere in the parking lot.

? "The only way that could have happened is if they had come through that little side street over there in the woods and just floored it," said Debbie McConnell of Pine Beach.

The accident remains under investigation and autopsies are planned. Police say the three people in the car were not wearing their seatbelts.

A school employee found the car around 6:45 a.m. The school was not open and no students were present.

A Pine Beach police officer patrolled the area shortly after 4:00 a.m. and did not see anything unusual, so all appearances are the crash happened sometime after that patrol.

Neighbors say they did not hear anything.

"I just couldn't believe it, I just couldn't believe it. I just cant believe it now," said Dorothy Studier, a neighbor of one of the victims.

"This is a very sad day for this area, anywhere, it's just sad when you see young people's lives go," said Emily Benedict of Pine Beach.

There are surveillance cameras at the school, but police have not said if they have pictures of the crash.

The school delayed opening by 90 minutes.

Authorities say they will reconstruct the crash scene. They are trying to determine how fast the vehicle was going and what exactly caused three young people to lose their lives.

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