Charges filed in accident that killed high school senior in Emerson, NJ

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Anthony Johnson has the latest on the death of a high school student killed when the SUV she was riding in flipped over in Emerson. (WABC)

A visitation and service will be held Tuesday for 18-year old Stephanie Morgan, a senior at Emerson High School.

She was killed in a car wreck last week. Two other students were injured in the accident when the Nissan Pathfinder SUV they were in flipped on its side on Hasbrouck Avenue at 8:40 p.m. on Wednesday.

The Bergen County Prosecutor said Morgan, the front seat passenger, was ejected. She suffered serious head injuries, and was pronounced dead at Hackensack University Medical Center.

The visitation will be held Tuesday morning at William G. Basralian Funeral Home in Oradell, N.J.; the service is at 1 p.m. also at the funeral home. She will be buried in Rockland Cemetery in Sparkill, N.Y.

The driver, a 17-year old female Emerson resident, and Morgan's 15-year-old brother, a passenger in the back seat, had extricated themselves from the vehicle. The driver was charged on Friday with a complaint of juvenile delinquency with the underlying offense of vehicular homicide. Her name has not been released.

Neighbors rushed out to try and help. "It's probably the worst thing a parent can witness or any human being can witness," said one neighbor. "You just don't know what to say to the family because you know it's the loss and the hurt and the pain, and the beautiful child."

Authorities determined that the driver lost control and the SUV traveled sideways along Hasbrouck Avenue until it flipped, left the roadway, and tumbled several times before coming to rest on its driver's side in a home's side yard.

Friends dropped by the scene to pray and drop flowers, still stunned by the tragedy. "She always had a smile on her face in the hallways," said one of Stephanie's classmates. "She was always nice to everyone in school, friends, anyone. She was just a great person."

One of the victim's relatives came to the scene, looking for a necklace with Stephanie's name on it, like the one in her Facebook photo.

Schools Superintendent Brian Gatens tells The Record newspaper the injured students are expected to make a full recovery. Gatens said officials met with classes on Thursday and the kids are "shocked and saddened."

Extracurricular activities, including the Junior Semi-Formal, have been canceled. The flag flew at half-staff Thursday at Emerson High School.

Gatens issued a statement to the community, which read in part: "Our in-district counseling staff, along with out-of-district counselors from other schools, are on site and ready to assist our students as necessary. Our teaching staff members are prepared to address the wide variety of emotions that may be expressed by the students. Understanding that families differ in their approach to death and bereavement, our teachers will not initiate class wide discussions, but will respond appropriately as necessary. As the Emerson school community grieves this loss, all Emerson Junior-Senior High School extracurricular activities scheduled for today, including tonight's Junior Semi-Formal, are cancelled."


(Some information from the Associated Press.)
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