HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, New Jersey -- A woman killed in a New Jersey house collapse died while shielding her youngest daughter as the structure came down, authorities said.
The collapse occurred around 6:50 a.m. Monday on the 1800 block of South Broad Street, near Joseph Street, in Hamilton Township, Mercer County.
The fatality was identified as 38-year-old Tika Justice. Her daughters, ages 16 and 20, survived and are now hospitalized.
Justice was found on top of her teenage daughter, officials said, while the 20-year-old was found chest-deep in debris when first responders arrived.
James Feig was the first one at the scene.
"I rode up to it, went back behind the billboard, and there was a lady buried in the rubble," Feig said. "She had the phone in her hand. She was talking to dispatch."
Feig said they tried to call out to others who were trapped.
"No response, so they either couldn't hear us or were unconscious," he said. "Soon as I saw the fire truck come up the road, I told her, 'Here comes the fire truck. Hold on.' It brought tears to my eyes."
Feig stayed at the scene and attempted to comfort the 20-year-old woman who was partially buried until first reponders could dig her out.
"She was doing well, and that's what you want to see," witness Casey Teuchert said. "And I was just so happy at that point just to see somebody come out of there."
PSEG was on scene to shut off gas lines, which is standard procedure for these types of incidents.
The cause of the collapse has not been determined at this time and remains under investigation.
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Officials: Mom killed in New Jersey house collapse died shielding 16-year-old daughter
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