MIDDLETOWN — A former teacher who moved to Monmouth County after his retirement was identified as the victim in a fatal car crash in front of Christian Brothers Academy.

Police Lt. Paul Bailey said that Brother James Leahy, 88, was struck by a car driven by Nicole Bruno, 25, of Manalapan, as he crossed Newman Springs Road around 1:36 p.m.

Bruno stayed at the scene and has been cooperative, according to Bailey, who said no charges have been filed and the investigation is ongoing.

School President Frank Byrne described Leahy as an "outstanding" individual who was "88 going on 30."

"He certainly had a wide career going from grammar schools and became a college professor of entheology at Manhattan College and then St. Mary's in California. When he stepped down from doing that for years and years, he wanted to become a missionary in Africa so he spent time in Eritrea for nine years."

At age 80 he came back to the United States and took a position as an administrator at the LaSalle retirement home next to Christian Brothers Academy. Byrne said Leahy decided he wanted to "cut back a bit" and moved onto the campus, where he was a volunteer in the library.

"He always wanted to stay active in one way or another," Byrne said.

Bryne said that speed has become an issue in the area around the school, which opened in 1959. The road that begins at Exit 109 of the Garden State Parkway has became more populated but there is no crosswalk or traffic signal in front of the school.

"I was a kid here myself in the '70s. I tell the kids that years ago you had to hitchhike home. There was nothing out here," Byrne said. Today he said it's very busy with 10,000 students attending nearby Brookdale Community College, St. Leo the Great School and Lincroft Elementary School.

Surviving Leahy are a brother and numerous nieces and nephews in Spring Lake and North Jersey, according to Bryne, who said funeral arrangements were not complete.

Anyone with information about the incident should call Middletown police at 732-615-2100.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.

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