15-year-old Gavyn Connolly dies after being hit by car on Route 42
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP — Gavyn Connolly, the 15-year-old girl struck by a car while crossing Route 42 Saturday, has died, police confirmed early Monday evening.
"I'm just happy that she passed painlessly and peacefully," Ivy Rhodes, 15, a close friend and fellow freshman at Timber Creek Regional High School, told New Jersey 101.5.
Police on Monday also released the name of the driver whose car hit Connolly, Sterling Knight. So far, no one has been charged in the incident. Knight was not injured, police said.
Calls by New Jersey 101.5 Monday to family, local police and the Black Horse Pike Regional School District Monday have not yet been returned.
Rhodes said she and Connolly had known each other since just after kindergarten, and while Connolly moved out of town as a young child, they reconnected when she moved back around the sixth or seventh grade. They instantly became friends again.
Rhodes remembered her friend as a true independent — a combat-boot-wearing, once-purple-haired tomboy who loved princess and pop-emo bands. Connolly didn't fit a simple mold — and she didn't care to.
"She didn't care what people looked like or what people said about her," Rhodes said.
But Connolly did care for others, and deeply, Rhodes said: "She was always there for people. If she saw someone crying or upset, she'd be there for them."
That included Rhodes. Connolly knew she loved "these strange Japanese cookies" Connolly would bring to school — and she'd slip them Rhodes when she was down.
Connolly was as generous with her tea — she loved tea — as she was with her time, Rhodes said.
"She would always make me smile," Rhodes said.
Condolences poured in via social media throughout the afternoon. Some students were urging their classmates to wear purple Tuesday in Connolly's memory. Rhodes also said she'd encourage close friends to all drink tea in Connolly's honor.
Washington Township Police said Connolly was struck on Saturday night around 8 p.m. as she crossed the highway near Shoppers Lane. Police Captain Dennis Simms said earlier Monday investigators were still trying to piece together whether Connolly was at a carnival across the street and to establish timeline of events surrounding the incident.
Simms said no charges had been filed against the 21-year-old driver of a 2011 Toyota Yaris that police said struck Connolly.
Witnesses to the incident are asked to call Washington Township Police at 856-589-6694.