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3 die after crashes send vehicles into icy bodies of water

January 16, 2018

BURLINGTON, N.J. (AP) — Three people were killed in two crashes in which vehicles plunged into icy bodies of water, and charges were filed in one of the accidents, authorities said.

A car believed to have been traveling at high speed struck a parked vehicle in Burlington on Sunday afternoon and then went over the river wall into the icy Delaware River, the Burlington County prosecutor’s office said.

The driver escaped, but the female passenger was still in the front seat and was submerged. Twenty-three-year-old Stephanie White, of Burlington, was pronounced dead at a hospital in Willingboro. The driver left the scene but was later located. The Burlington County prosecutor said 24-year-old Jacob Garrett, of Burlington, was charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident, causing death while driving with a suspended license and endangering an injured victim. It wasn’t immediately clear whether he had an attorney.

City resident Joe Entwistle, who witnessed the crash, told the Burlington County Times that he and several other bystanders tried to help and got a man who was on the back of the overturned and submerged vehicle out of the river.

“Three or four of us pulled him out,” Entwistle said. “He was soaking wet and panicking, saying his girlfriend was in there. Then he took off. I guess he was in shock.”

On Saturday in Willingboro Township, a speeding car went out of control and hit a minivan, which was sent over a guardrail and down an embankment into a body of water that is part of Olympia Lake, the prosecutor’s office said.

Fifty-two-year-old Robert Stephens and his 50-year-old wife, Janet Stephens, of Burlington Township, had been waiting to cross over Route 130 when their minivan was struck. They were pronounced dead at a hospital.

The prosecutor’s office said an investigation into that crash would focus on whether criminal behavior was responsible for the collision and the subsequent deaths and will include the results of toxicology tests.

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