Van carrying 6 elderly people overturns in NJ

PORT REPUBLIC, N.J. - September 7, 2010

The crash happened around 9:00 a.m. on the 300 block of Atlantic County Route 575, also known as Old New York Avenue.

Police say the van hit a utility pole and overturned.

The driver told investigators he swerved to avoid a deer.

The van was coming from a nearby group home called Caring House, police said.

Galloway Township Ambulance Squad Chief Chuck Uhl was the first to arrive on the scene.

"I found seven people, six elderly patients who were being attended to by the driver. The vehicle was on its side," Uhl said.

Uhl added that no one was ejected from the vehicle.

Authorities say the elderly patients, all women over the age of 80, were being transported for medical appointments.

Two residents and the driver were treated and released from the hospital. Four others were still being evaluated.

The 23-year-old driver of the van, Crystal Aikens, was cited for reckless driving.

The acting executive director of Caring House, Barbara Jewell, said the victims are being cared for while they are being treated.

"Our residents are very, very important to us," Jewell said. "We have staff with each one of the residents to give them emotional support and help them through this."

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