Crime scene

VINELAND — A Bridgeton woman did not properly supervise an 8-year-old girl who suffered fatal injuries when she was struck by a vehicle at a busy Vineland intersection May 16, according to city police, who charged the woman Tuesday.

Police said the youth was in the care of 32-year-old Stephany James, of Commerce Street, when the accident occurred.

James was “found to have left the juvenile alone without the benefit of adult supervision” when the youth ran into the intersection, police said.

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The girl — Aryonna Watson, of Bridgeton — died three days later from her injuries, police said in a statement posted on their official website.

James is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and hindering prosecution. She was taken to the Cumberland County jail in Bridgeton and held on $25,000 cash bail set by Superior Court Judge Paul Porrecca.

Capt. Rudy Beu of the Vineland Police Department said he had no information about the relationship between Aryonna and James, saying that was a point of confusion for investigators when the accident occurred.

The child’s mother is Stephanie Watson, of Bridgeton, according to a published obituary that appeared in The Daily Journal of Vineland.

Aryonna was a second-grade and honor-roll student at the Fairfield Township School, her obituary states.

The intersection of Delsea Drive and Sherman Avenue is very busy. It handles a lot of traffic from the nearby Inspira Medical Center Vineland and Cumberland County College. The intersection is in a commercial strip of Delsea Drive, also known as Route 47, which has nearby fast-food restaurants, used-car dealerships, banks, drug stores and other businesses.

The site is near the intersection of Sherman Avenue and Main Road, where increased traffic from the medical center, college, businesses and residential neighborhoods in part prompted a significant upgrade a few years ago.

Police said Robert H. Zajac, 45, of Swedesboro, Gloucester County, saw Aryonna after the vehicle in front of him swerved. Zajac said he could not stop his vehicle in time to prevent hitting the girl, police said.

No charges were filed against Zajac.

Aryonna was taken to Inspira Medical Center Vineland after the crash. She was then transferred to the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., where she died, police said.

Contact Thomas Barlas:


Senior copy editor for the Press of Atlantic City. Have worked as a reporter, copy editor and news editor with the paper since 1985. A graduate of the University of Delaware.

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