Three dead when car crashes into NJ school

February 3, 2011 4:48:28 PM PST
A compact car carrying three people slammed into a brick wall at an elementary school before dawn Thursday, killing all of them.

Investigators remained mystified as to what caused the crash, which wasn't discovered until an employee at the Pine Beach Elementary School saw the crumpled vehicle around 6:45 a.m., before the school opened.

The crash occurred near a back entrance to the school, which is in a residential neighborhood. However, there are no security cameras in that area of the building, officials said. A borough police officer had made a pass through the school's parking lot between 4:15 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. and noticed nothing unusual, authorities said. No visible skid marks were found at the scene.

The impact from the 2011 Hyundai Accent left a 6-by-6-foot hole in the wall adjacent to the school's media room, said Michael Mohel, deputy chief of the Ocean County prosecutor's office. But nearby residents said they didn't hear the crash, and no one was in the school when it happened.

Killed in the crash were driver Matthew Budesa, of Pine Beach, and front-seat passenger Kimberly VanGorden, of Beachwood, both 20, along with Matthew Witzgall, of Toms River, who was 21. None of the victims was wearing a seat belt. All sustained multiple traumatic injuries, Mohel said.

Budesa's father is a member of the Pine Beach Borough Council.

The crash appeared to be head-on, but Mohel declined to discuss how fast the vehicle may have been traveling, and he wouldn't speculate on whether drugs or alcohol may have played a role. He said autopsies would be performed on the victims.

The crash cleanup forced a 90-minute delayed opening of the school.

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