EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — A sport utility vehicle carrying eight members of a southern New Jersey high school football team crashed Saturday on the Garden State Parkway, killing four players and injuring four, authorities said.
It wasn't immediately clear where the teenagers were coming from or where they were going when the SUV crashed at about 11:45 a.m. The crash, which occurred in the southbound lanes of the parkway near exit 38A in Egg Harbor Township, created lengthy traffic jams in the area for most of Saturday afternoon.
The driver apparently lost control of the SUV as it went around a crest in the road and came upon heavy traffic, said Sgt. Julian Castellanos, a state police spokesman. The SUV overturned several times, ejecting two passengers, one of whom was struck by a passing car, Castellanos said.
The driver and two passengers were pronounced dead at the scene; a third passenger died at a hospital. Four others were taken to hospitals for treatment of injuries believed to be non-life-threatening.
State police confirmed that all eight were players on the Mainland Regional High School football team in Linwood and ranged in age from 15 to 17. Their names weren't immediately released.
The crash comes just weeks before the school year begins.
Officials at Mainland Regional, a 1,600-pupil school that pulls students from Linwood, Somers Point and Northfield, didn't immediately respond to emails and phone messages from The Associated Press seeking details on the crash.
Assistant football coach Rich Koeppel told The Press of Atlantic City that counselors would be available to students at the high school and a candlelight vigil would be held Sunday evening.
The Mainland Mustangs are scheduled to open their season on Sept. 9. In 2008, the team won the South Jersey Group IV sectional championship for the first time in its history, according to the Press of Atlantic City.