Terry Gerson hugged his son for the last time barely 20 minutes before Shane Gerson died on impact after his car crashed into a tree Sunday night on Duerer Street in Galloway Township.
But the father wouldn’t find out about the crash until hours later.
Gerson said his 28-year-old son had been visiting him in Galloway for the day and had just finished dinner before heading to his girlfriend’s house in Mullica Township.
“When he didn’t call (to say he had arrived), I started calling her and asked if he got home,” Terry Gerson said.
Areina Harris said she spent the next two hours trying to call and text Shane Gerson before a news report gave her the answer to his whereabouts. A local television news station captured the image of the car involved in the crash, which happened about 8 p.m., and Harris instantly knew it was her car.
Harris said she rushed to the scene after trying to call both Galloway and Mullica police for more information.
Officers at the crash scene were aware she was on the way and, when she arrived, confirmed for her that the victim was Shane Gerson and that he had died, she said.
Terry Gerson also found out about the crash from the television report and made it to the site after police had cleared the scene.
“By the time I got down there, they had removed the car and my son’s body. I have not been able to see my son (since),” he said. “When he left (Sunday night), the last thing I did was hug and him and told him I love him. So the last thing he heard from me is ‘I love you.’”
The only thing that made it easier was knowing he died on impact and didn’t suffer, Gerson said.
He visited the crash site the next day, and went to see the condition of the car.
“I broke down when I saw the car and how bad it was. And I saw that there was no way my son could’ve survived,” Gerson said.
Harris, in the meantime, is worried about her two young sons, who knew Shane Gerson as a father figure.
“My youngest only understands that daddy is now an angel. I told them that he’s now an angel and is watching over us. I told them that ‘when you see the wind blowing, he’s blowing a kiss at you,’” Harris said. “I know he wouldn’t want me to be sad. I’m using the strength he had to get through this.”
She said she was training to join the Navy and was relying on Shane Gerson’s four years of experience in the Navy to help her with the training.
“We were going to get married after I was done with boot camp,” Harris said.
Terry Gerson said he is having a very hard time dealing with the loss of his son, whom he raised almost single-handedly.
“I think he did a terrific job,” Harris said of Terry Gerson. “Shane turned out to be a wonderful person with a heart of gold.”
A temporary date was set for the funeral; however, Gerson said he had not finalized any details since his son's body was still with the Medical Examiner's Office.
“I am going through something that I would not wish on my worst enemy,” Gerson said.
Police were told the car may have had a mechanical failure, said Detective Sgt. Donna Higbee. The cause of the accident will not be revealed until after a crash investigation is complete.
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