WAYNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A driver was charged with manslaughter for allegedly losing control of his car and killing three people at a New Jersey gas station.
Prosecutors say 29-year-old Jason Vanderee was speeding and under the influence at the time of the crash. Vanderee has a previous heroin possession charge in Nov. 2016, according to prosecutors.
The victims include a father and his teenage son, who had just gotten his driver’s license before heading to school. Also killed was a gas station employee who customers knew and loved.
Witnesses said the crash happened so fast.
Toni Smith couldn’t sleep. So she came to the makeshift memorial at the Delta gas station in the middle of the night hoping to feel closer to her brother, John Warbeck, and his 17-year-old son, Luke, who died in the crash.
“John, I love you. We all love you. We know you’re here with us,” Smith said Wednesday. “Today’s John’s birthday. He’s 51 today.”
Police said Vanderee was speeding Tuesday morning when his SUV plowed into the gas station off Route 23.
Surveillance video shows Warbeck and his son were in a car directly in the SUV’s path. So was gas station attendant Lovedeep Fatra, who had just finished filling up their tank.
The father, son and gas station employee died at the scene.
“It was was a blur,” witness Tito Krishmamurthy said.
Krishmamurthy works at the station and said he witnessed everything. He said he brought a cup of coffee for Fatra every day. On Wednesday he continued the routine, only this time it was symbolic.
“He was a great guy. Everybody loved him and he was always polite to the customers,” Krishmamurthy said.
Regular customers like Donna Maldonado brought mementos to add to the memorial.
“Look for angels in your life, they’re everywhere,” Maldonado said. “I just thought I want to lay this there for them, for all of them and their families.”
Meanwhile, counselors were on hand at Boonton High School where Luke Warbeck was a junior.
“There were kids understandably crying, very upset,” superintendent Robert Presuto said.
Vanderee is facing multiple charges, including manslaughter, driving while intoxicated and drug possession. He was taken to the hospital for treatment.
“I’m glad he survived. I hope he survives because dying would’ve been the easy way out for him,” Smith said of the accused.