HAWTHORNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A driver has been arrested in connection with a crash that killed a woman and injured two others at a farmers market in northern New Jersey.
James Woetzel, 48, has been charged with vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident which resulted in death, authorities said Monday. Bail was set at $200,000.
Around 2:12 p.m. Sunday, authorities said Woetzel drove his pickup truck through a barricade and hit three people, including a woman who was dragged three blocks.
“I heard the truck coming through the barricades, I heard crashing and I heard screaming,” vendor Jamie Borelli said.
“I ran after the car screaming, ‘stop, stop, stop’ because there was a person under the car,” said witness Blythe Roth.
The woman, who has been identified as 58-year-old Donna Wine, was pronounced dead at the scene.
“It’s unthinkable you can drag someone so far and not realize you’ve done something,” Hawthorne Mayor Richard Goldberg said.
Vendors were preparing to close for the day when the crash occurred and officials said only a few customers were there at the time. Goldberg said the market had been scheduled to close at 2 p.m.
A vendor, Bailey Hildebrant, of Hackettstown, was injured and taken to a hospital by ambulance. She said she was working at her family’s stand when the truck came through.
“I hit the ground and just saw tomatoes flying up through the air,” she said. “I keep re-running it through my mind and thinking of what I could have done, if anything would have been different, if I saw something. I just saw him too late. I’m just happy I’m OK.”
Monday morning, workers cleaned the scene of bags of produce while strangers lit candles to honor Wine.
“It’s just devastating,” resident Victor Deluca told CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang. “Very, very sad. I can’t seem to wrap my head around the logic of somebody doing that.”
There were no obvious signs of alcohol or drugs, police said.
“I just want to know why he didn’t stop,” Hildebrant said. “The barriers are all there and you can see the tents.”
Some residents said that the accused driver’s physical challenges may have been a possible cause.
“I thought mumbling to myself, the condition he’s in he can’t control that car,” Ed Gurriell, said.
Gurriell said that he was concerned that Woetzel’s size and difficulty walking could lead to a tragedy behind the wheel.
“I said the man’s going to kill himself or somebody else,” Gurriel told CBS 2’s Steve Langford.
If convicted, Woetzel faces up to 10 years in prison for each charge, WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported.
The investigation is ongoing.
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