The incident was reported in the southbound lanes of Route 1 in Edison just before 5:30 p.m.
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Officials said a tractor-trailer lost control and caused a crash with at least nine other vehicles.
Seven people, including two children, were injured and taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick. At least one person was critically injured.
"From the information I got from my daughters, my wife said oh my God, and that was it. It was all chaos after that," said Paul Castignetti, the husband of one of the victims.
His wife Victoria and their two teen daughters were in a minivan when the tractor-trailer crunched into it and spun them around. The girls were cut up, but OK. Victoria, however, is in critical condition.
"She has bleeding on the brain, a couple of rib fractures, that's really all I know so far," said Castignetti.
The accident happened at the height of rush hour on Route 1. "We were all stopped at the red light and this tractor trailer just didn't stop," said 19-year-old Austin Brooks, who was in one of the cars.
"And it was just a domino effect of cars you know spinning around," he said. "And next thing I know I get hit really hard from behind and then we spin out and next thing I realize I'm face first in the median."
The truck, operated by a company called Racing Transport, plowed through nine vehicles before it finally stopped. The driver also went to the hospital, where he was facing questions from Edison police.
"Some of the people in this accident I could just say it was very very bad scene," said Brooks.
"It's crazy. You never know day to day, you never know what life's gonna bring you," said Castignetti.
All southbound lanes were closed after the crash and traffic was diverted onto Amboy Avenue.
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