By: Richard L. Smith
The Essex County Prosecutor's Office, along with Newark Police, are intensifying their search for the driver responsible for a hit-and-run that left a Newark Arts High School cheerleader critically injured.The incident occurred Sunday night in front of the school in the Central Ward of Newark.
The victim, 18-year-old Chiara Jones, identified by her cousin Renee Simmons, is fighting for her life at University Hospital. She suffered a severe head injury after being struck by a vehicle just after exiting a school bus at around 10 p.m.
Jones's cheerleading team had just returned from a successful outing at the Impact Cheer Challenge in Toms River, NJ. Their performance at the RWJ Barnabas Arena had secured them a place in a national championship competition in Florida.
The "AHS Jags" team, consisting of 22 performers, had competed in the cheer dance, small coed varsity category.
In a public information request acquired by RLS Media, event organizers stated that they arrived at the arena at approximately 6:17 p.m. and took to the stage for their performance at 7:06 p.m.
According to Robert Florida, spokesman for the Essex County Prosecutor's Office, the Crime Scene Investigations Bureau is diligently investigating the collision, which occurred on the 500th block of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Witnesses reported a dark-colored sedan speeding northbound on the boulevard, striking Jones as she attempted to cross the street to reach an Uber.
Several parents, present to pick up their children, witnessed the tragic event and rushed to comfort Jones until help arrived.
While the Arts High School administration has hinted at some progress in Jones's condition, Spokesman Florida released that she remains in critical condition at the hospital.
As the community holds vigil and prays for Jones's recovery, the police continue their urgent search for the hit-and-run driver.
No arrests have been made as of yet in this ongoing investigation.