It happened at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday in the eastbound lanes in Bernards Township, located in Somerset County.
Police said a 43-year-old man from Maine driving a Dodge Ram pulled over to check on a cattle trailer that he was towing. While stopped, a second car -- a Hyundai Elantra -- struck that trailer. The driver of that Hyundai, 23-year-old Ravi Naik from Hillsborough, pulled over the shoulder and got out of the car.
At the same time, police said a Ford passenger van carrying 13, believed to be all employees from a local Chinese restaurant, struck the guardrail, the trailer, then the Dodge and then Naik.
Naik was killed along with two others who were riding in the van. Twelve people were injured and rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment, including the driver of the pickup truck.
Police said all of those hurt are expected to be OK.
Officers are still investigating the crash and no charges have been filed.
The people in the van worked at the Ling Ling Restaurant in Basking Ridge. A sign on the door reads: "Restaurant closed due to an unexpected emergency, we will reopen. We will apologize for the inconvenience."
Customers say it was like eating at a friend's place. Knew your name. If you were short on money it didn't matter. pic.twitter.com/U5XT0DXrxE— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaanKim) November 29, 2015
Toni-Ann Ludica, who works in the Gymboree next door to the restaurant, said about four years ago, her business and the restaurant were the first to open in the shopping center. From the beginning, she said everyone who works at Ling Ling was warm - all hard-working immigrant employees.
"The workers are really nice people. They're always so conscientious, they're very hard workers," Ludica said. "They're always waving to the children, they're nice to the parents. The parents all go eat there - they're super nice people."
Loved ones said Ravi Naik recently turned down a high paying job with Bank of America, so he could be close to home and take care of his sick grandfather.
"He always just wanted to be around everyone he knew and keep them in touch. He almost persistently just tried to get everyone together and hang out," said Dharmin Desai. "He was very charismatic. His personality was quite magnetic, so you could see that's why people were hanging around him so much."
In life, Niak was known for bringing people together, and his death was no different, with hundreds gathering at his home mourning his loss.