Fiery N.J. Turnpike crash kills woman with Alzheimer's

WESTAMPTON, N.J. - December 1, 2009 It happened Tuesday morning, when a female driver suddenly stopped her car in heavy traffic and was eventually killed. Turns out that woman had been reported missing.

Police say the family of 67-year-old Ellen Liedtka last spoke with her Monday morning. But when her daughter arrived at Liedtka's Hamilton Township home to take her to lunch and shopping she was gone.

"They called her 8 o'clock in the morning the last time they had contact. They stopped by her home around 11 o'clock, her vehicle wasn't there. They became concerned," said Captain James Stevens of the Hamilton Township Police Department.

The family reported Mrs Liedtka missing to police around 2:30 and told them she suffered from Alzheimer's disease. A sighting of her Red Mercury Sable was reported around 6:00 Monday night heading south on Rt. 206 in Evesham but it was not seen again until Tuesday morning's terrible accident.

Emergency calls to police said a vehicle was stopped in the fast lane of the turnpike with no lights on making a crash almost inevitable.

"She was struck from behind by a Subaru, that knocked her into the center lane and then a tractor trailer came along and hit her car again," said Sgt. Steve Jones of the New Jersey State Police.

That impact drove Liedtka's car into the left shoulder where it burst into flames.

"We're thinking that maybe Alzheimer's may have contributed to the reason why she would have been in the left hand lane."

Ellen Liedtka's family declined all comment but Hamilton police say at this point they have no knowledge of any driving issues prior to Tuesday morning's horrific accident that would have stopped Liedtka from getting behind the wheel.

"Unless they're cited for having certain conditions or there's an application sent forward to DMV to have them retested...but I don't see any reason at that point that would have been done or even considered," said Captain Stevens.

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