Hit-and-run crash outside Newark Arts High School critically injures 18-year-old cheerleader

Toni Yates Image
Monday, February 5, 2024
High school cheerleader critically injured after hit and run
Toni Yates is in New Jersey with the story.

NEWARK, N.J. (WABC) -- A student cheerleader was struck and critically injured in a hit-and-run crash Sunday night outside Newark Arts High School.

Law enforcement sources tell Eyewitness News that the crash happened just after 10 p.m. on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. in front of the school.

Chiara Jones, 18, was one of several cheerleaders who had just returned to the school on a school bus after a competition.

She apparently tried to cross the street, but a dark-colored sedan that police say was speeding went around the bus and struck her.

After the crash, the driver drove off and the teenager was unresponsive.

She was taken to University Hospital in critical condition.

Her cousin Renee Simmons says Jones' parents are with her inside and not leaving her side.

"I haven't slept. I haven't been to work," Simmons said. "It's been very difficult. I'm trying to be strong for them even though I'm hurting myself."

Investigators said they will be combing over video from traffic cameras in the area.

There are surveillance cameras in front of the school in addition to a mounted Newark Police camera at the corner of MLK and Mercer.

The hope is that maybe one of them captured the license plate.

Simmons had a message for the driver who took off.

"Turn yourself in. That's a child who had a bright future, who was looking forward to go to college, who was looking forward to go to her prom and now she's in the hospital," she said.

In the meantime, the family is praying for this senior, who has been working on her future.

"She was filling out scholarships, we were going on college tours, just getting ready for the big day and for graduation," Simmons said.

According to the high school's Facebook account, the cheer team had just won a competition in Toms River.


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