A father and son from Linwood, later identified as James Friedrich, 53, and his 22-year-old son, Justin, were killed in an early morning crash Saturday near Exit 44 on the Garden State Parkway in Galloway Township.
State Police Sgt. Adam Grossman said troopers from the Bass River barracks responded to a report at 2:35 a.m. of a vehicle off the roadway. Upon arrival, they found a brown Nissan Pathfinder at the edge of the woods by the southbound lanes.
Several EMS and paramedic units responded, Grossman said, but the two occupants were pronounced dead at the scene.
James’ wife, Denise, said her husband had operated a home repair business in Linwood for about 25 years and was known for being friendly and outgoing.
“I called him the Linwood mayor,” she said. “He knew everyone in Linwood and talked to everybody. And he was very dedicated to his kids.”
At the time of the crash, Denise said her husband was driving home after picking up his son from Paramus in Bergen County. Justin, his son from another relationship, graduated from Mainland Regional High School in 2009.
“(James) just took care of everybody,” she said. “If he could help somebody, he would. Believe me, we’d be driving through Pennsylvania, and if he saw someone who needed help or needed money, he’d give them money.”
Nicole Danter, 28, of Newfield, Gloucester County, said her father and brother had very similar personalities. Justin shared his father’s interest in construction and enjoyed working with his hands.
“They were both very stubborn people,” she said. “They liked to do everything on their own and for themselves. They would butt heads sometimes because of how much they were alike.”
But both also had good hearts, she said.
Danter said her father was like her best friend. The two shared everything and would talk up to six times a day.
Justin was the same way.
“He said what he felt about everything and everyone,” she said. “That’s not always the best thing to do, but he did it.”
In recent years, the family had experienced tremendous loss, including the 2005 death of the siblings’ stepmother, Gwen. Danter said Justin had a difficult time coping with the loss. Their father, who himself had suffered the loss of his own grandmother, understood Justin’s struggles better than anyone, she said.
Despite those difficult times, Danter said her brother was a “good kid” who took pride in being an uncle to her three children. For a time, Justin had also served as a volunteer firefighter.
“My kids adored him, and he loved being an uncle,” Danter said. “He loved all kids.”
Grossman said a preliminary investigation found Friedrich’s Pathfinder left the roadway along the left shoulder and re-entered. The vehicle then rotated clockwise and went off the road again to the right. It continued along the grassy area before striking several trees with the driver’s side. The Pathfinder then rolled onto the driver’s side and came to rest facing north.
The accident is still under investigation, and the scene was cleared Saturday morning.
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