Community mourns teen killed in Burlington Co. ATV crash

SOUTHAMPTON TWP., N.J. (WPVI) -- A New Jersey community is in mourning after a crash in Burlington County involving two ATVs that killed a 14-year-old boy and injured two others.

It happened shortly after 3 p.m. Saturday off New Road and Patty Bowker Road in Southampton Township.

Police say 14-year-old Nykolai Cunningham of Southampton was driving a Yamaha Rhino ATV off road with a 14-year-old male passenger when he lost control.

Cunningham struck a Kawasaki Prairie, which was driven by another 14-year-old boy.

As a result of the collision, police say Cunningham and his passenger were ejected from the ATV.

Police say all three involved were not wearing helmets.

Cunningham was pronounced dead at the scene.

His passenger and the other driver were taken to Cooper Trauma Center in Camden with non-life-threatening injuries.

Gail Corey was dropping off her grandchild on W. Patty Bowker Rd. near the border of Southampton Saturday afternoon when she saw the teens go by.

"We waved and they weren't racing, they were just driving by," she said.

But less than five minutes later, as she was driving down the road as she was leaving, she saw the ATVs overturned on three boys on the ground. She called 911.

On Monday, a small memorial marked the accident site.

"One of the young men told me that the young driver that was killed hydroplaned. And when you hydroplane, he lost control and turned," Corey said.

The eighth grader's death has sent shock waves through Southampton Middle School, where classmates decorated Nick's locker with heartfelt messages. And in memory of their friend many more wore red, his favorite color.

"Nick was a spirited, energetic student. Always had a smile on his face, very popular. Well-liked by his peers," said Superintendent Michael Harris.

Harris says the Burlington County school crisis response team was activated, bringing 10 counselors to the school to work with the three staff counselors already there. Harris says many of Nick Cunningham's classmates are taking advantage of the counselors to work through their grief.

"Our staff is feeling the pain, the students are feeling the pain," he said.


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