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

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

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.

  • Jose

    a similar incident happened to me while driving on the interstate one time, I had to
    maneuver my car drastically to avoid getting hit by a rolling tire that was coming straight to me at highway speeds, it did hit the truck driving behind me and bounced off the truck with a vengeance.

    I am very sorry for the loss of life this flying tire caused. I don’t wish this to anyone, it was very unerving when it happened to me.

  • chris

    @JasonS well, obviously poorly maintained cars look bad and are likely fuel inefficient…. hence the reason many states have auto inspections. However, a tire falling off a car is not something a driver is going to notice from looking at his car. The fact is that no one checks their lug nuts on a daily basis, weekly basis, or even yearly basis. When was the last time you had yours checked?

    My guess Jason, is that when it snows you drive with snow on top of your car. When your windows are fogged you start driving when you can see out even if the majority of the window is still fogged.

    The point is, there are far worse negligent driving scenarios.

  • Grim Weeper

    RIP…what a way to go…sad.

  • navarro

    srry about ur familyhope yu get bettre

  • navarro

    i feel srry about her her family

  • MVM

    I didn’t know cops are also trained in spotting mechanical defects and metal fatigue of a vehicle with just a glance. You’re an Idiot!

  • Frosty

    Please dont be so quick to judge…
    I lost a wheel once, and know for a fact the lug nuts were tight, as all the bolts themselves snapped off.

    accidents happen, that’s why they are called accidents.

    My condolences to the family…so sad!

    • steve

      If the bolts broke it could have been from stress caused by the lug nuts being overtightened. While sometimes things do just happen, more often than not they are caused by a lack of attention to detail somewhere along the line. A tech at the tire rotation place being in too much of a hurry, and using the air gun to tighten the lugs, instead of using a torque wrench set to the car makers specs…..

    • Larry Hosmer

      wow, i’m so sorry for Mrs. Seratelli and her family

  • http://l aura

    Please change his name, its Russell and his daughters name is spelled Danyel. Thank you very much.

  • billie jo

    my heart goes out to the family…a few years ago a trailer hitch came off the back of a utility truck and came threw my windshield missing me by just a few inches….very scary

  • Kev

    maybe it’s becuse NJ’s roads are full of major potholes….don;t be too quick to judge on something you know nothing about !!

  • Mr. Armenia

    Very tragic condolences to the family.

    Should a driver know if the wheel on his car is loose?

  • bob

    Yeah, you’re right it’s the cops fault. They should stop every car and make sure they meet your personal expectation of excellence. If the police worked harder no one would ever die, wouldn’t that be great! You’re an idiot, please do not reproduce.

  • Alyse

    This also just happened probably a month or so ago on I-25 in Denver, CO, where the speed limit was 55mph. A semi truck lost TWO tires simultaneously; one tire bounced harmlessly into a parking lot or something, but the other went into oncoming traffic and killed a woman in her car. Very terrifying because it’s not something that other drivers can avoid. Drivers need to get their vehicles maintained and checked often, especially truck drivers!

  • richard

    sorry for your loss i to had a tire go threw my windshield on the belt parkway i thought i was dead got lucky i guess my hart goes out to the family.

  • Kathleen NJ

    Something very similar happened to me a few months ago. It was an 18 wheeler that lost it’s tire and it started bouncing down Route78 towards my car. I was lucky enough to see it coming and swerve out of the way. I was shaking the rest of the way home thinking ‘thank God it did not hit anyone’. I feel so bad for this family. My thoughts and prayers are with them.

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