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July 25, 2023

Driver who crashed into parked car in Absecon, killing 8-year-old, charged with DUI

Javier Velez had been on a fishing trip with his dad and younger brother. He was napping in the car at the time of the collision, police say

Investigations Crashes
Absecon Crash Velez Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Javier Velez, 8, of Philadelphia, was killed in a crash in Absecon, New Jersey, while on a fishing trip with his dad and brother on July 22. Velez was asleep in his family's parked car when another vehicle slammed into it, police say.

An 8-year-old boy who had been asleep in a car, parked on the side of a road not far outside Atlantic City, was killed when the vehicle he was in was struck by a Nissan Sentra over the weekend. On Tuesday authorities charged the driver of the Nissan with drunken driving.

Javier Velez, of North Philly, was with his dad and younger brother on a weekend fishing trip in Absecon, when the crash occurred around 3:30 a.m. Sunday. At the time, the family's car had been parked on the shoulder of the White Horse Pike near Delilah Road, and the boy's father and brother were fishing from a bridge.

Investigators said the car driven by Edward Johnston, 25, of Egg Harbor City, was traveling west before it slammed into the Velez family's Honda. The impact trapped Javier Velez inside the car. He was unresponsive when rescue crews removed him and took him to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, where he died, police said.

On Tuesday, the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office charged Johnston with driving under the influence and reckless driving, the Press of Atlantic City reported. The crash investigation is ongoing.

The boy's mother, Kaylah Smith, 27, said Javier's father would take the brothers to the same spot in Absecon for fishing each year, and they would sometimes bring a tent with them. The Velez's had been parked along the White Horse Pike since Saturday evening. 

Smith told the Press of Atlantic City that Javier's brother also had been inside the car minutes before the collision. 

The family reportedly plans to create a memorial for Javier at the crash site.

In another interview with Breaking AC, Smith said she rushed from Philadelphia to the hospital after hearing of the crash, but her son had died before she arrived. 

A GoFundMe page to cover funeral expenses and to support the family had raised nearly $19,000 by late Tuesday afternoon. Javier was remembered for his love of playing sports and spending time with his family. 

"This loss has come so unexpectedly for the family, and we ask to please help us raise money to pay for his final farewell during this very painful time," the GoFundMe page reads. "No amount will lessen the heartbreak. All donations will go toward his funeral expenses and money left over will go toward the family as they heal from this unthinkable tragedy."

Anyone with information about the crash can contact Detective Dylan Hutton of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office at (609) 909-7885 or Sgt. Ryan O’Connell of the Absecon Police Department at (609) 641-0667.