Two teenage girls -- including Cape May County Technical High School student Nioami Lazicki -- were killed late Tuesday after being struck by an SUV on Bayshore Road in Middle Township.
The girls, Lazicki, 15, and her cousin, Ashley Dauber, 13, of Philadelphia, were walking eastbound on the shoulder of the road when they were struck by a 1992 Ford Bronco traveling behind them. Police were called to the scene about 9:17 p.m., Middle Township Police Capt. John Edwards said.
Prosecutor Robert L. Taylor and Middle Township Police Chief Christopher Leusner said in a news release that authorities arrested Joshua Malmgren, 30, of the Villas section of Lower Township, at the scene of the crash. Malmgren was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, failure to maintain lane and consuming alcohol while operating a motor vehicle. He was lodged in the Cape May County Jail on $50,000 cash bail.
The family of the girls said they, along with Nioami’s younger sister, Farrahanne, were walking to the family’s house on Blueberry Lane, about a half-mile from the crash site, when the accident occurred. Farrahanne was able to get out of the way of Malmgren’s vehicle, but the other girls could not get out of the way in time, said mother Christina Gaston-Lazicki.
The girls had been at a playground on Bayshore Road and were walking home. “She texted me at 10 after 9 and said ‘Mom, I’ll be home in 5 minutes,’ because they have to be in every night at 9:30 p.m.,” Gaston-Lazicki said. “Then my other daughter called me at 9:18 p.m., saying they both got hit by a car. That was the worst phone call a parent could ever get, that her children are lying dead.”
Deborah Pennington, admissions, alumni and advancement coordinator at Cape May County Technical High School, said Wednesday that “the school community is deeply saddened” by the loss of Lazicki.
Lazicki was a student at the school and would have been entering 10th grade in the fall, she said.
“She was well liked,” Pennington said. “This is just so heart wrenching. We do want to express our condolences to the family."
Pennington said that Lazicki had completed her freshman year exploratory program at the high school and was to have started her career/technical program of study when she entered 10th grade.
Pennington said that students who wish to speak to a counselor can contact the school at 465-2161, extension 683.
School-based youth services and the guidance office have counselors available, she said.
The girls were walking across the road from the Green Creek Firehouse, at Bayshore Road, near the intersection of Route 47, when they were hit.
Little remained of the crash site Wednesday morning other than red lines on the pavement from the investigation and a few shards of black plastic.
Bayshore Road is a two-lane road with a three-foot-wide shoulder on both sides. The girls were on the eastbound shoulder almost directly across the street from the Green Creek Volunteer Fire Company when the crash occurred. About 50 yards west of the crash site there is a curve in the road.
Green Creek Fire Chief Dave Zeiss said Bayshore Road is a high traffic thoroughfare that connects Route 47 and the Villas section of Lower Township. The shoulders are narrow, yet many in the area walk along the road because that's the only option they have.
There haven't been many crashes along the road itself, Zeiss said, but he added that local officials need to find some way to make the route safer for pedestrians because, for many, it's the only way to get to the corner stores or the bus stop.
"It's a danger, especially to the youngsters who live here and who don't have a driver's license yet," Zeiss said.
Staff Writers Trudi Gilfillian and Lee Procida contributed to this report.