Students and faculty at the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Sciences in Manahawkin and Jackson Memorial High School were grieving this morning after learning of the loss of two friends and classmates.
The girls, identified as 17-year-old MATES student Jaime Nicholson and her 15-year-old sister Francesca, died in a crash on South Hope Chapel Road in Jackson yesterday.
Both girls were in the color guard of the Jackson Memorial High School Band.
A person who knows the girls well, but did not wish to be identified, recalled the sisters as "full of life."
"Jaime was the captain of the color guard, and she made everyone laugh. She would always be silly with the girls and make them smile," the person told Patch, through tears.
Jackson Memorial's band has performed at several high-profile events, including Philadelphia’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The band is also scheduled to perform in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif., on New Year’s Day.
On their website this morning, Jackson Memorial administration posted the following: "Members of the Jackson School District's crisis response team will be available beginning Wednesday for students and staff in response to the death of a Jackson Memorial High School student and a Jackson Memorial High School student who attends MATES in a car accident Tuesday night.
Any parent, guardian or student who would like assistance from a member of the district's crisis team is welcome and encouraged to call the Guidance Office at Jackson Memorial High School at 732-833-4626."
A spokeswoman for the Jackson School District, Allison Erwin, told Patch that the "district is laser-focused on identifying students that need help," this morning. She said efforts include having guidance staff on hand for students, as well as shadowing the girls' schedules to identify those students in the classroom who may need help.
"This is an incredibly painful and stressful time for everyone at Memorial," Erwin said. "I was over [at the school] this morning, and the mood is somber."
MATES is one of the career academies administered by the Ocean County Vocational Technical School District. MATES students typically concentrate in the areas of math, science, and technology. Erwin explained that students have to apply to enroll in MATES, and upon acceptance, could still participate in extracurricular activities in their home school district.
In a statement released to Patch, Principal Alison Carroll wrote: “The death of our student Jaime Nicholson is a horrible tragedy. We have grief counseling available on site for our students and staff as we deal with this devastating loss.”
In a statement Jackson police said that the accident occurred around 5:17 p.m. Upon police arrival, they found a two-car crash involving a 2001 Mazda minivan, driven by Thomas Migliaccio, 47, of Toms River, and a 1987 Mercedes Benz 190, driven by Jaime Nicholson.
An investigation revealed that Nicholson was traveling in a northerly direction on South Hope Chapel Road, lost control of the vehicle, crossing the center line of the roadway, impacting the Mazda, which was traveling in a southerly direction.
Police noted at this time, "wet roads and excessive speed for the roadway conditions are being investigated as contributing circumstances to the crash."
Police Officer Patrick Mackin of the Jackson Police Department Traffic Safety Bureau, assisted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department Criminalistics Investigation Unit, are investigating.
Migliaccio sustained minor injuries from the crash and was transported to Kimball Medical Center by the Jackson First Aid Squad.