A Millville speech teacher who was to receive her master’s degree this weekend was killed in a car crash Wednesday night as she headed home from Richard Stockton College.
Police said Lindsey Sickler, 26, of Hammonton, was westbound on Moss Mill Road in Galloway Township, approaching Harvard Terrace, when she lost control of her vehicle, struck a number of curbs, a stop sign and a tree, police said.
Sickler was taken to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, City Campus, with internal injuries and was pronounced dead a short time later, police said.
“This is a tragic loss for the district, a tragedy of immense proportions,” Millville Superintendent David Gentile said.
He said Sickler was employed as a speech pathologist by the district for the past two years and had worked with about 40 percent of the student population at Rieck Avenue Elementary School. She was also studying to get her masters in speech pathology from Stockton, he said.
“This is the kind of kid who was working nonstop,” Gentile said. “She was a great person, great with kids and was well liked. The district and especially her home school are in mourning.”
Jessica Lieve is a teacher in the school’s multiple disabled class and worked closely with Sickler.
“She was an excellent teacher in more ways than one,” Lieve said, adding that Sickler also was an avid snowboarder.
“She had a trip planned to Maine,” she said.
Elizabeth Oliver, a fifth-grade teacher at the school, said faculty broke the news of Sickler’s death to their students Thursday morning.
“They are so sad,” Oliver said. “She was around all the kids, not just her speech students. She volunteered for everything. Whenever we had any after-school programs, she volunteered.”
Sickler would also dress as the Cat in the Hat on Dr. Seuss day, Oliver said.
“The kids really enjoyed her,” she said.
Gentile said Sickler was returning from Stockton when the accident occurred.
She would have graduated Sunday from Stockton as part of the inaugural class for the Communication Disorders master’s program, according to a statement from Stockton. She graduated in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology and audiology.
On Monday night, Sickler and classmates in the Communications Disorders Master’s of Science Program had displayed their research projects at the Stockton Campus Center and talked with a reporter about their plans for the future, and the demand for speech therapists.
Sickler said she planned to stay in the Millville School District and enjoyed working with students. Her presentation was on the effect of large caseloads on student services, and she had determined that if a caseload exceeded 50 students, service to them would be compromised.
“It was really exciting for me to research this,” she said.
She lived alone in Hammonton, said her sister, Holly Sickler.
A 2005 graduate of Riverside High School in Burlington County, Lindsey Sickler held numerous leadership positions both in high school and at the college, including high school senior class president, high school honor society president, and president of the Stockton College Speech and Hearing Club, according to Stockton. She was a member of Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership honor society, and the recipient of a variety of academic scholarships. She was also a regular volunteer for several community nonprofit organizations.
The police report for the accident said the airbag did not deploy and that Sickler was not wearing her seat belt. The crash is under investigation.
The college is offering support to students, faculty and staff at the Counseling Center at 609-652-4722. The center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. After-hours counseling services can be reached by calling 571-437-5694 or 609-289-0726.
Staff Writers Diane D’Amico and Thomas Barlas contributed to this report.
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