FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP — Two teenage passengers died in a crash on Route 9 late Tuesday night when the 17-year-old driver lost control.

Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey said the driver from Howell was changing lanes on the southbound side and spun out around 10:40 p.m. His 2004 Chevrolet Malibu went off the road, hit the curb and several concrete-filled posts before rolling over in front of the AAA car care center.

Two passengers, a 15-year-old male from Allentown and a 17-year-old from Manalapan, were pronounced dead at the scene. A 15-year-old female passenger from Manalapan was treated for minor injuries while a 17-year-old from Allentown was still hospitalized early Wednesday afternoon.

Linskey did not disclose the identities of any of the teens involved in the crash.

Utility crew repairs a pole after a crash on Route 9 in Freehold Township
Utility crew repairs a pole after a crash on Route 9 in Freehold Township (Joe Hewes)
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Condolences for the victims

One of the students attended a school in the Freehold Regional High School District, according to district spokeswoman Rebecca Policastro.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of one of our students. Our thoughts and sympathies are with their family and friends during this difficult time," Policastro told New Jersey 101.5. "When things like this happen, students may need extra support in handling their grief. It is common to have different reactions toward a jarring situation, such as shock, sadness, fear, and anger."

Policastro encouraged students and their families to utilize the FRHSD Counseling Resources, which lists organizations, hotlines and groups that can help students through difficult circumstances.

Counselors will be available for students at school when they return from spring recess on Monday. The district includes high schools in Freehold Township, Freehold Borough, Colts Neck, Howell, Manalapan and Marlboro.

Upper Freehold School District superintendent Mark Guterl said both teens from Allentown attend Allentown High School.

"News like this is the worst type of news for anyone to hear. Today, we are thinking of the parents, siblings and family of all families involved. Any support we can offer our families, we will," Guterl said. "In the meantime, we know that this can be an enormous challenge for students to process and understand; at times, it's even hard for adults to comprehend a tragedy like this."

He said counseling services will be available for students and staff Wednesday from 4 p.m.- 6 p.m. and Thursday from 3 p.m. - 5 p.m. at Allentown High School.

Manalapan Mayor Susan Cohen extended her condolences and said she and the township will reach out to offer assistance.

No charges have been filed in the crash.

Looking for witnesses

Route 9 was closed southbound for over five hours for an investigation but was fully reopened for the morning commute.

Township police ask any witnesses to the crash to contact them at 732-462-7908 or the Prosecutor's Office at 800-533-7443.

The fatalities are the second and third of 2022 in Freehold Township and the sixth and seventh on the heavily traveled Route 9 corridor through Ocean, Monmouth and Middlesex counties, according to State Police records.

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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These are the best hiking spots in New Jersey

A trip to New Jersey doesn't have to be all about the beach. Our state has some incredible trails, waterfalls, and lakes to enjoy.

From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
If you are thinking of bringing your dog on your hike, they should be leashed, and make sure to clean up all pet waste.

Lastly, be mindful of the weather, if the trail is too muddy, it's probably best to save your hike for another day.

I asked our listeners for their suggestions of the best hiking spots in New Jersey, check out their suggestions: