CHESTER, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – The day after a fatal collision killed a grandmother and granddaughter in New Jersey, the local community is speaking out to make a notorious intersection safer.
Stunned neighbors were distraught to learn a crash Thursday afternoon in Chester killed their friend 73-year-old Mariamma Thomas and her five-year-old granddaughter.
A tractor trailer smashed into their SUV that was driven by the child’s 75-year-old grandfather. He survived the crash.
“They were just great people… it’s a horrible thing to happen,” their neighbor, Joseph Jaramillo told CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge.
The grandfather, Cheriyal Thomas, was rushed to Morristown Medical Center in stable condition. Police say he was attempting to make a left turn on Route 206 South from Furnace Road.
The tractor trailer, driven by 30-year-old Kyle Westenberg, slammed into the family around 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Officials believe Westenberg had the right of way however, the investigation is still in its early stages.
“Still investigating… it appears the SUV pulled out right in front of the tractor trailer,” Chester Township Police Chief Thomas Williver said.
The impact sent the tractor trailer careening onto a nearby property, where it came to rest against a now damaged car. No one else was hurt.
CBS2 spoke to several people who live nearby and they say sadly, collisions are not new to this intersection.
An 11-year-old was in a three-car accident at the same spot on Halloween, she was in a car driven by a family friend.
“Two cars were coming on 206, they crashed and when they crashed it hit our car and the car flipped upside down,” Cindy Castro explained.
Police responded to that call on Oct. 31 – and several others in recent years – and have long considered the troublesome intersection a danger zone.
“We’ve even reached out and sent plans to DOT to try and put in left turn lanes,” Chief Williver said.
“We’re also looking to see if we can get a traffic light at that intersection.”
Police say the way the road curves makes it tough to see oncoming traffic.
CBS2 has reached out to New Jersey’s Department of Transportation, who claims they had not received any complaints about this location.