Associated Press

South Jersey was spared the worst of the record-setting northeaster that dropped several inches of snow in the state and knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of utility customers.

Slick road conditions, however, did result in a series of accidents Sunday morning along the Garden State Parkway. State Police said about 20 accidents, none of them serious, had been reported between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m.

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Across the state, there were 13 road closings as a result of motor vehicle accidents and downed trees, State Police said. Emergency personnel responded to 243 weather-related incidents, particularly in the northern part of the state, State Police reported.

Two North Jersey residents were killed in events connected to the northeaster.

Officials said Sunday that an elderly man in Franklin Lakes, Bergen County, who used a wheelchair died late Saturday night after a house fire that was sparked by a downed power line. Eighty-five-year-old Peter Andre died of smoke inhalation after his son - who also uses a wheelchair - and their housekeeper were unable to reach him.

On Sunday, 40-year-old Oscar Ramos of Haledon, Passaic County, was killed when his car collided with a parked utility truck on the Hamburg Wayne. Two utility workers sustained minor injuries in the crash and were taken to a local hospital, where they were treated and later released.

Police say the cause of the crash, which occurred at about 3 a.m., remains under investigation.

At least two other people were seriously injured during the weekend when tree branches brought down by the heavy snow fell on them. But further details on those injuries were not immediately available Sunday night.

Residents were still feeling the storm's effect Sunday, as utility crews remained out in force in northern and central areas, working to repair downed lines and other equipment damaged in the storm. The northeaster dropped as many as 19 inches in some areas and shattered the state record for an October snowfall - which had been one-third of an inch that fell in Newark in 1952.

Crews were working around the clock, but officials warned that power may not be fully restored in some northern areas until Wednesday.

More than 635,000 customers overall were still without power early Sunday night, mostly from outages caused by tree limbs that broke off due to the heavy snow and fell on to power lines. PSE&G said 324,000 customers had no service, while about 283,000 Jersey Central Power and Light customers were waiting to be restored. Orange and Rockland had about 28,000 customers out, while Atlantic City Electric had less than 100.

The restoration effort was being hampered by downed trees and messy road conditions spawned by Saturday's storm, which spurred Gov. Chris Christie to declare a statewide state of emergency.

Christie was also among those who lost power Saturday, and service had not been restored to his Mendham home by early Sunday night. Meanwhile, state police say three North Jersey hospitals were still running on emergency generators and a nursing home in Livingston was evacuated after the site lost power and its generator later failed.

The weather also forced NJ Transit to suspend some rail service in North Jersey. Agency officials said the Morris and Essex Line, including the Gladstone branch and Montclair-Boonton line, would remain suspended through today due to downed trees and power lines.

The rail lines serve about 25,000 riders each weekday, and the agency said it would continue to cross-honor tickets system-wide through at least Monday

North Jersey took the brunt of the storm, which dropped heavy rains, snow and sleet across the region. It also had strong winds that ranged from 20 to 45 mph, with gusts as high as 55 mph reported in some areas.

"It was a real mess. A nasty, cold, wet, ugly mess that never happens (in New Jersey) this early," Tom Jacobsen said Sunday while grabbing some coffee at a convenience store in Hamilton Township, Mercer County, "You had this storm, you had Hurricane Irene, you had the flooding last spring and you had the nasty storms last winter. I'm starting to think we really ticked off Mother Nature somehow, because we've been getting spanked by her for about a year now."

West Milford had the highest snowfall amount in New Jersey with 19 inches, while 17 inches was reported in Lake Hopatcong and Rockaway had 16 inches. Much less fell in central Jersey, where snowfall amounts ranged from 1 to 6 inches, while most southern areas saw little or no accumulation.

Associated Press Writer Bruce Shipkowski and Staff Writer Donna Weaver contributed to this report.


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