Community Mourns 13-Year-Old Girl Struck, Killed By Off-Duty Trooper In New Jersey

WESTFIELD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Authorities say a service vehicle driven by an off-duty state trooper has struck and killed a teenage girl in Union County.

Friends and family members identify the victim as 13-year-old Terry Difalco.

The accident occurred around 8:30 p.m. Saturday in the 1800 block of Central Avenue in Westfield.

Police say Difalco was pronounced dead at the scene. Students and parents remembered Difalco at a candlelight vigil Sunday night.

“She lit up every room she walked into,” one classmate said.

“She was a great person,” friend Vincent Moora said.

A small memorial has formed where the young girl was hit.

“She was talented, intelligent, everything you could want in a daughter and I knew her since first grade,” Difalco’s former Girl Scout leader Kathy Jensen told CBS2’s Meg Baker.

Friends of Difalco say they were gathering at Central Avenue near Wyoming Street for a scavenger hunt organized by members of the school play when tragedy struck.

“She was crossing Central Avenue and the car ended up hitting her because one of the boxes was at this guy’s house on Central Avenue,” Moora said.

He said students were running all over town playing the game, which was a yearly tradition.

In a letter sent to parents Sunday, Westfield High School Principal Derrick Nelson said the victim was a 9th grade student at the school.

“We are all devastated by these events and our heartfelt condolences go out to their entire family and friends,” the letter continued.

In addition to the high school’s normal guidance department, Nelson said the school will have additional resources from a grief counseling organization that works with young adults “for anyone who needs to speak with someone in wake of this tragedy.”

“Within the last 18 hours, I have spoken with the police department, school administrators, teachers, and parents all wanting to help in any way they can,” the letter continued. “It is times like these that I am the most proud of our community.”

“She was a beautiful person, a beautiful child, and we will miss her,” Jensen said.

No charges have been announced against the unidentified trooper who remained at the scene. The investigation is ongoing.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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