Erial Elementary School 5th grader Samantha Ortanez-Nguyen was mowed down my a drunk driver yesterday while visiting the Italian Market in Philadelphia with family.  Now, classmates, faculty, and the small community of Erial, NJ are coping with the loss.

11-year old Samantha Ortanez-Nguyen did her best (according to witnesses) to run from an out of control SUV while waiting to cross the streets of Philadelphia yesterday.  That vehicle careened onto a busy sidewalk after being sideswiped by a small compact car being driven by 28-year old  Max Drosi od Miami, Florida.  Drosi was intoxicated at the time of the crash and charged with DWI.  Samantha was pronounced dead at the scene.  Her family members also suffered multiple injuries, but Drosi was unhurt.

Ortanez-Nguyen was a Girl Scout in Gloucester Township.

On a personal note, my heart aches for my hometown, and for the school whose halls I roamed when I was an elementary student there.  I, and the entire SoJO staff, extend our condolences to the family and the entire town of Erial, NJ.