A 71 year-old woman passenger died from injuries after a van turned head-on into a pick-up truck on Route 70 Saturday evening. The driver of the van fled on foot and is now in police custody, officials said.
Michael Mastronardy has not released the names of the victims, or the driver of the second vehicle. He said that shortly after 7 p.m. Saturday, a pick-up truck heading westbound on Route 70 struck a van that was making a turn from Route 70 east onto Massachusetts northbound.
The driver of the van, a 28 year-old Lakewood man, hopped out of the van and ran north. Canine police found him in the ensuing manhunt on Massachusetts Avenue. Mastronardy said the man is in custody at police headquarters as part of an ongoing investigation.
The 71 year old Toms River woman was a passenger in the pickup and was pronounced dead after being transported to Kimball Medical Center. The male driver was airlifted to Jersey Shore Trauma Center and is in serious condition, Mastronardy said. The driver of the van was not injured.
With the area on the border of Lakewood and Toms River, multiple towns and county personnel were called to assist with the accident and manhunt. Lakewood officer Ed Vega found the driver after he ran north up Massachusetts, Mastronardy said.
At that intersection, both sides of Route 70 have two lanes of traffic and a turning lane to head onto Massachusetts Avenue, which is also county road 637. Mastronardy said it's unclear if the pick-up was in the right or middle lane of traffic when the collission happened.
"The impact sent them out of the traffic pattern," he said. "We're still investigating, still reconstructing what went down."
At 1 a.m., the driver of the van was still at police headquarters, Mastronardy said.
Route 70 westbound was closed for three hours. The New Jersey Department of Transportation assisted with traffic control.
responded for extrication of the victims.
Traffic Safety Officer Steven Schwartz is investigating along with the and the .
The fatality was less than a mile from a in March, where a teenager died trying to cross Route 70 near Whitesville Road, when a westbound vehicle struck the man.
"People don't realize just how busy this north part of town is," Mastronardy said.