Speed, Failure to Wear Seatbelts Likely Factors in Westville Crash Deaths
A weekend crash that claimed the lives of the driver and three young children could have been entirely preventable. Authorities now say speed may have been a contributing factor in the accident, and that none of the four occupants were seat-belted.
The fatal accident happened Saturday evening in Westville, Gloucester County when a 1987 Ford Mustang being driven by George Ritter IV of W. Deptford crashed into a utility pole on Gateway Boulevard near Pellegrino Chevrolet.
Ritter was killed, as were his own 9-year-old and 5-year-old daughters, and their 8-year-old cousin. Four lives tragically cut short.
Taking a Joy Ride?
According to Courier Post, Westville Police Department has observed that the Mustang involved in the accident was outfitted to double as a racecar. In a statement, Westville Police Chief William Whinna said, 'The vehicle was modified with specialized tires and engine accessories to include a roll cage to make the vehicle specially designed to race at private racetracks.'
Before the Accident
Ritter, his daughters Alivia, 9, Elsie, 5, and their cousin Kenzie Mammoccio, 8, had all attended a party at Westville Power Boat Association, reports Courier Post.
Tragedy May Have Been Preventable
Whinna also noted that no one in the car was wearing a seatbelt. Toxicology tests were performed on George Ritter IV to determine if he was intoxicated or under the influences of any illegal substances at the time of the accident. Results are pending, but we will continue to update this story as details become available.
Remembering the Victims
Funeral services for all four victims will reportedly be held this Saturday, August 7th beginning at 9 a.m. at Davis & Wagner Funeral Home on Delaware Street in Woodbury. You can read more about the lives of George, Alivia, Elsie, and Kenzie in their published obituaries.
Kenzie's dad, Brian Mammoccio, tells 6abc.com, "I wish I could have her here next to me, give her one last hug because I never got to say goodbye to her. She was caring and honest and full of life and spark. Cherish every moment you have with your children because you never know when that moment can be taken away. I only got eight years with mine."
Our deepest condolences go out to all the families left suffering from this unspeakable and life-altering event.
Having said that, and I realize this is a mute point given the circumstances and that anger won't bring the victims back, but I can't help but be infuriated by what happened. An adult was behind the wheel of the car and should have known better, but instead made a costly mistake. Three little girls will never get to grow up and experience life. A little bit of fun and maybe showing off a hot car was not worth all this.