Teen NJ soccer star killed in crash

VINELAND, N.J. - December 17, 2010

Police say Nicholas Gazzara III, 18, of Vineland, lost control of his car and collided with an oncoming truck on Route 54 in Buena Vista Township.

Gazzara died at the scene. The truck driver was seriously injured and is hospitalized. State Police say the snow-covered roads may have contributed to the crash.

Gazzara was a senior at Sacred Heart High School and on Friday the school was adorned with photos and clippings of the teen. Grief counselors were also on-hand, and there was a memorial mass before students were dismissed early.

"It's their classmate. How do you process that at this time? It's Christmastime and they're looking forward to the good things and, all of a sudden, a tragedy sneaks in there," said Sacred Heart President Father Ed Namiotka.

Gazzara scored 42 goals this season, a school record, and led his team to the Cape Atlantic League National Title.

"I spoke to him yesterday and congratulated him. He said 'thank you' and walked back to class. I'm glad I had that little exchange with him because I wanted him to know that I was proud of him," said Sacred Heart Principal Diane Tucker.

"In all his successes, he was always very, very even-tempered," said Athletic Director Stephen Tucker.

With only 250 students at Sacred Heart, everyone knows everyone else. Now, students said, it is hard to believe Gazzara is gone.

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