2 teens killed after car crashes onto train tracks, bursts into flames in Pearl River

Monday, October 14, 2019
EMBED <>More Videos

Joe Torres reports on the deadly crash in Rockland County.

PEARL RIVER, New York -- Two teenagers were killed and a third was injured after a Porsche crashed off of an overpass onto train tracks and burst into flames in Rockland County Sunday.

The 2017 Porsche Macan went on the train tracks at West Crooked Hill Road and Railroad Avenue in Pearl River.

Authorities say the driver, 17-year-old Aisha Radoncic, first hit a 2013 Volkswagen Jetta before careening off the overpass.

Her two teenage passengers, 15-year-old Saniha Cekic and 17-year-old Altin Nezaj, were pronounced dead at the hospital.

Radoncic was transported to Westchester Medical Center with serious injuries. The driver of the Jetta, Jason Castro, of Nanuet, was not injured.

Eyewitnesses reported hearing a boom and then seeing the car on fire, followed by a horrific sound they say they'll never forget.

"I screamed, 'Is there people in it?'" a witness said. "And I heard this woman screaming 'Help me, help me,' and just screaming. It's terrifying, where you can't actually pull them out of the car. I thought I was going to be able to pull them out of the car."

Nezaj was a football player and wrestler at Pearl River High School, where Radoncic is also a student.

"This is a remarkable community for its resilience and its ability to come together in times of tragedy, and this is no different," Pearl River Superintendent Marco Pochintesta said. "We will have counselors available today and throughout the week to support our students and staff.")

Even though there were no classes Monday, students gathered to remember their friend.

"Altin always had the biggest smile on his face at school," student Ella Travaglino said. "He was everyone's friend. Just everyone knew him. I had so many classes with Aisha too. She was such a good friend and everyone knew them so well."

Cekik, of Kensington, Brooklyn, was an honor student at Edward R. Murrow High School.

"She was an awesome child," cousin Ismael Cekic said. "Awesome cousin, sister, daughter, honor student, top of her class, wouldn't hurt a fly. Innocent kid."

Grief counselors were also available at her school.

"This is a tragic loss, and there will be grief counselors available for students and staff," the New York City Department of Education said in a statement. "We'll be in close communication with the school community, and ensure students and staff are supported."

Pearl River High School sent the following letter home to students:

"Dear Pearl River Families, I am sharing additional information regarding yesterday's tragic accident on Route 304 in Pearl River. As a result of the accident, senior Altin Nezaj succumbed to his injuries. Altin will be remembered as a smiling, steady presence who excelled as varsity wrestler, varsity football player and a solid student.Fellow Pearl River High School senior, Aisha Radoncic, remains hospitalized at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla. A third teenager, Saniha Cekic of Brooklyn, also lost her life in the accident.Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of each student.Counselors will remain available today at PRHS, and throughout the week, for any student or staff member in need of support. In addition, counselors will be available at our other Pearl River schools this week. Additional information regarding services for Altin will be provided to the school community later today.News of this tragedy has already propagated through social media and via local news outlets. Thus many students may already be experiencing trauma and other emotions upon learning of the loss of their classmate. Allow for your child to talk about feelings. If this is the first loss your child has experienced, your child may not know how to respond and will be looking for your guidance. Affirm all expressions. Let your child know that it's okay to express feelings honestly and openly. Reaffirm that your child is safe and that your child is loved.Attached please find additional tips on helping your child cope with loss, death and grief from the National Association of School Psychologists. If you have concerns about your child, please feel free to contact your child's school counselor or administrator."

Service was suspended on the Pascack Valley Line of the New Jersey Transit system after the crash. It is back in service Monday.


* More Northern Suburbs news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube