RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Five people, including a young child, are dead after after a serious crash on a highway in the New Jersey borough of Rutherford, police said.
The crash occurred Sunday night just before 10:45 p.m. on the westbound side of Route 3, near the exit for Route 17.
According to Rutherford Police Chief John Russo, an SUV struck a front-end loader that was in operation at a construction project on the highway. Russo said there was only one westbound lane open at the time of the crash.
The Bergen County Prosecutor's Office said the front loader vehicle was entering the roadway from the Route 17 South/Service Road entrance ramp.
While traveling west on Route 3, the front loader was struck from behind by a Nissan Rogue SUV. The man operating the front loader immediately pulled to the side and alled 911, officials said.
Paramedics on the scene told PIX11 some of the passengers of the SUV involved were possibly ejected onto the highway in the horrific crash.
The Bergen County Prosecutor's Office identified the five victims as driver Michelle Toledo, 38, of Paterson, New Jersey; passengers Irvina Gee, 20; Sheckylle Chain, 23; Ayana Navas, 16, all of Paterson; and Noah Alexander Dejesus, 4, of Allentown, Pennsylvania.
All westbound lanes of traffic on Route 3 were temporarily closed in the area into early Monday as the investigation continued. They reopened later Monday morning.
According to a state website, the federally funded $26.7 million construction project has been going on since 2018 and is working to replace both the Ridge Road Bridge and the Orient Way Bridge over Route 3, as well as provide a continuous full-width right shulder on Route 3 in both directions, in an effort to ease congestion.