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N.J. Man Killed After Tire Flies Through Windshield On GSP

Traffic Safety Expert: Robert Seratelli, 47, Never Had A Chance
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Robert Seratelli

Robert Seratelli, left, was killed on Feb. 28, 2011, when a tire flew the windshield of the car he was driving on the Garden State Parkway. (Photo: CBS 2)

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KENILWORTH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A freak accident on the Garden State Parkway claimed the life of a 47-year-old father on Monday. A tire that flew off a car traveling in the other direction came smashing through his windshield.

It’s an eerie reminder it could happen to anyone, anywhere. John Metaxas surveyed the scene Tuesday from one of CBS 2’s Mobile 2 units.

Experts said there wasn’t much the driver could have done to save himself, but there are things you can do to improve your safety while driving.

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It’s every driver’s worst nightmare — something flies off another car and comes crashing through your windshield.

Chopper 2 HD captured images Monday of a white Hyundai Sonata with its windshield shattered from the impact of the crash. A tire and rim had flown off an older model Honda Accord travelling in the opposite direction, careening across the highway and smashing into the Sonata. The accident snarled traffic on the Garden State Parkway for miles.

Robert Seratelli, a father of three, was killed in the crash. His 25-year-old daughter, Danyel, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, escaped unharmed.

“It’s unbelievable that something like this could happen,” a neighbor told Metaxas.

On Tuesday at the Seratelli home, where his sons, Anthony and Russell, were too grief stricken to speak on camera, a friend and neighbor remembered Seratelli as a devoted family man.

“He was the ideal family man. Everything his kids did, he didn’t want to miss out on it,” the neighbor said.

The accident happened in the southbound lanes of the Garden State near exit 138, where traffic tends to travel at a fairly fast clip. Seratelli and his daughter were going home when the tire came flying across the median.

“It’s very hard as a driver to defend against something like this because so many times you can’t even see the object coming off of another vehicle,” said N.J. AAA traffic safety specialist Ed Baginski.

Baginski said Seratelli likely had no time to react, but added drivers can minimize accidents by making sure their vehicles are properly maintained.

“An older vehicle, if its lug nuts aren’t properly tightened, either too loose or too tight, they can cause wear — on the lugs themselves or on the tire rim,” Baginski said.

Police have impounded both Seratelli’s car and the Honda that lost its tire pending an investigation.

Please share your thoughts on this tragedy below.

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