Five of the eight Mainland Regional High School football players in Saturday’s fatal SUV crash on the Garden State Parkway were not wearing seat belts, State Police said Monday.
Three of the four survivors had failed to buckle up, while two teens were killed despite following the seat belt law, Sgt. Julian Castellanos said.
Seat belts failed to save the lives of Northfield residents Nicholas Conner, 16, and driver Casey Brenner, 17, Castellanos said. The other two victims, Edgar Bozzi, 17, of Somers Point, and Dean Khoury, 15, of Linwood, did not have their belts fastened, Castellanos said.
Kyle Beattie, 16, of Northfield, was the only surviving passenger who wore a seat belt. The others — Alex DeNafo, 16, of Northfield, and Linwood residents Jake Smith, 17, and Kenneth Randal, 15 — did not, Castellanos said.
Investigators are still determining the vehicle’s speed and whether airbags deployed when the 2002 Ford Explorer carrying the eight teammates flipped off the highway near Exit 38A, which leads to the Atlantic City Expressway, Castellanos said.
Survivor Jake Smith said Brenner came suddenly upon slow-moving traffic as he drove over a crest on the southbound side of the Parkway. He braked and swerved to avoid hitting the cars, then lost control of the SUV, which rolled over several times.
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