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January 15, 2018

Three killed in two crashes as vehicles plunge into icy waters

Police Fatal Accidents
01152018_Burlington_River_GM Google/StreetView

The intersection of Wood Street and Riverbank Road in Burlington City, near where a car went into the icy Delaware River on Sunday, killing a passenger.

Two cars plunged into icy waters over the weekend in separate incidents in Burlington County, killing three people.

In the first accident, about 4:30 p.m. Saturday, a husband and wife in a minivan were struck by a vehicle traveling at an excessive speed at the jug handle on northbound Route 130 and Bridgeboro Road in Willingboro Township, according to the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office.

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The force propelled the minivan carrying Robert Stephens, 52, and his wife, Janet, 50, of Burlington Township, over a guardrail, down an embankment and into Olympia Lakes.

Several rescue squads and fire departments were involved in pulling the Stephenses from the water, but life-saving efforts were unsuccessful. Both were pronounced dead Saturday night at Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County in Willingboro, the prosecutor's office said.

Authorities said a two-door sedan driven by Amish Patel, 29, of Delanco, entered the jug handle, lost control and crashed into the Stephens' minivan.

No charges have been filed in the crash, but it remains under investigation by the prosecutor’s office and the Willingboro Township Police Department. Anyone who witnessed the collision is asked to call Burlington County Central Communications at 609-265-7113.

In the second accident, which occurred just before 1 p.m. Sunday, a car struck a parked vehicle in Burlington City and then went over a wall into the Delaware River. While the driver was able to escape, a female passenger still in the front seat was submerged. She was pronounced dead at a local hospital, according to the prosecutor's office, which did not identify her.

Burlington City police responded at the river near Wood Street for a report of a car in the water. They found the front end of the car had broken through the ice. The driver had fled the area, but the female passenger was still in the front seat and had become submerged in the water, authorities said.

The woman was extricated from the car by crews from the Burlington City Fire Department, Burlington Township Fire Department, Endeavor Emergency Squad and Croydon (Pa.) Fire Company. She was transported to Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County in Willingboro, where she was pronounced dead.

According to officials, a preliminary investigation indicates the driver was traveling at a high rate of speed along Riverbank Road when his vehicle struck a parked minivan before vaulting over the river wall and into the water.

The driver, a Burlington City man, was later picked up by officers from the Beverly City and Edgewater Park Township police departments and taken to Lourdes for a medical evaluation. He was not identified.

The investigation is ongoing and no charges have been filed.