LACEY – Township police are continuing to investigate a crash that took place this morning on Route 539 in the vicinity of mile marker 19.5
Police Sergeant Robert Flynn said the crash that occurred around 6 a.m. and according to initial reports indicated entrapment of an occupant of one vehicle that was fully engulfed in flames.
Further investigation revealed that a 2000 Lexus operated by a 37-year-old female from Staten Island, NY was traveling north in the southbound lane on County Road 539 approaching mile marker 19.5.
A 2006 Kenworth tri-axle dump truck was traveling south at the same time and the Lexus struck the front of the dump truck at a high rate of speed.
Several witnesses reported that the operator of the Lexus had passed multiple vehicles well in excess of the posted 55 miles per hour speed limit while traveling north just prior to the crash.
The witnesses also reported that after passing another vehicle the operator of the Lexus failed to return to the northbound lane, and continued traveling north in the southbound lane, right into the path of the dump truck.
The impact caused the Lexus to burst into flames upon colliding with the truck, with the occupant still inside the vehicle. It does not appear the initial impact was survivable. The operator of the dump truck, Sergio Pernilla, 37, of Hamilton, suffered a minor injury.
At present, the identity of the driver of the Lexus is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The crash resulted in significant damage to the vehicles involved and caused the roadway to be shut down for an extended period of time.
The crash also caused the diesel fuel tank of the dump truck to become compromised, resulting in the spill of a significant amount of diesel fuel onto the roadway.
As of 3 p.m. today clean-up efforts were still underway and the road remains closed. It is estimated that the roadway should be reopened by late evening.
Responding units included the Forked River and Bamber Lakes Fire Department, Berkeley HAZMAT Team, Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, New Jersey State Police, Stafford Township Police Department, Barnegat Police Department, Ocean County Road Department, NJ State DOT, and Accurate Towing all assisted with the investigation and/or clean-up efforts.