UPDATE: Police Ends Pursuit Moments Before Crash That Killed Man, Teen in Lakewood
Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato announced the results of a double fatal crash that occurred Thursday night in Lakewood Township.
According to authorities, at approximately 6:51 pm on June 7th, Toms River Police Officer Kyle Lamar attempted to make a motor vehicle stop on a 2016 Red Ford Focus wanted for allegedly being involved in a shooting within Lakewood Township earlier Thursday. Police added that in addition, the driver was not wearing a seat belt and the registration for the vehicle came back suspended.
Officials say the Toms River patrol activated his emergency overhead lights signaling the driver to stop, however, the driver fled initiating a pursuit. The Toms River Unit followed the fleeing vehicle through his jurisdiction, but fearing for the public’s safety terminated his pursuit after the fleeing vehicle ran a red light at the intersection of Route 70 and Massachusetts Ave near the Lakewood Township border.
The Toms River patrol continued north into Lakewood and minutes later came across the suspect vehicle which had crashed into a tree just north of Massachusetts Avenue and Cross Street and engulfed in flames.
Police say the driver was entrapped in the vehicle and Officer Lamar, with the assistance of Toms River Officer Thomas Elwood who arrived on the scene, immediately struggled to remove the driver as the car continued to be engulfed in flames. Managing to free him, they then carried him across the street and began CPR.
According to authorities, EMS and Lakewood PD responded to the scene and first aid was rendered to the occupants of the vehicle, however, they ultimately succumbed to their injuries and were pronounced deceased.
Police have identified the occupants of the Ford Focus as Rynell Bennett (Driver), 29, of Bellefonte PA, and the passenger a 16-year-old Gloucester teen.
Officials say Ptl. Lamar and Elwood were transported to Toms River Community Medical Center for treatment of smoke inhalation. Both were treated and released.
The preliminary investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Fatal Accident Investigations Unit indicates that just prior to the crash the vehicle was were traveling north on Massachusetts Ave at a high rate of speed when the vehicle lost directional control and collided into a tree located on the southbound side of the roadway. Further information was developed that the vehicle failed to stop for a red traffic signal at Massachusetts Ave and Cross Street prior to crossing into the southbound lane continuing into a wooded area coming to final rest into the tree.