LOWER TOWNSHIP - Township resident Fredrick H. Shelton, 50, died Saturday night after his car was hit head-on by another car driven by a Pennsyvania man with a history of drunken driving, police said Sunday.

According to police reports, Shelton, driving a 1996 Ford Escort, was traveling south on Route 9 approaching the intersection with Bennetts Crossing when a northbound 2000 Chrysler Sebring convertible driven by John J. Lawless, 37, collided with his car. The crash sent Shelton's vehicle spinning into the intersection before it came to a stop facing northbound in the southbound lane.

Lawless' vehicle, meanwhile, continued past the intersection, coming to a rest in a western direction straddling the northbound and southbound lanes.

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Rescue crews attempted to revive Shelton, but he was pronounced dead at the scene at 8:44 p.m.

Police said Lawless had his Pennsylvania driver's license suspended in 2001 and he had a history of druken driving arrests.

Lower Township Police Chief Edward Donohue, who responded to the crash scene, said Lawless should never have been behind the wheel.

"The bottom line here is this man should noy have been operating a motor vehicle on any highway, in any state based on his suspended driving privileges and record of previous DWI arrests," Donohue said.

Lawless was charged with death by auto, a second-degree crime, along with two counts of assault with a motor vehicle for the injuries sustained by Shelton's wife, Sheri, 44, and his 13-year-old daughter, who were passengers in Shelton's car.

Lawless was also charged with driving while intoxicated, operating a motor vehicle with a suspended driver's license, reckless driving and failure to maintain a single lane.

Lawless is being treated at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center and is under guard by Lower Township police. Upon his release, he will be placed in the Cape May County jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

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