POINT PLEASANT — A young man and woman from Ocean County returning from a road trip were killed in a horrific, three-vehicle crash in Illinois, stunning their loved ones in New Jersey.

Illinois state police said that 19-year-old Cole Young was driving a 2008 Honda Odyssey minivan around 9 a.m. on Friday, with 20-year-old Marsada “Sadi” Connors as his only passenger.

Both Young and Connors lived in Brick, according to authorities.

A tractor trailer headed west on I-70 veered onto the median and then into oncoming traffic, first hitting a trailer being towed by a Chevy pickup, before plowing into the minivan and sending both the tractor trailer and the van into a ditch, according to troopers.

The driver of the tractor trailer, 55-year-old Bill Lard, of California, was airlifted with serious injuries, while Young and Connors were pronounced dead at the scene.

The losses were felt deeply among the community of Point Pleasant Boro High School, where Connors played varsity basketball and Young played on the varsity baseball team before graduating in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Cole and Sadi's families,” Point Pleasant High School Coach David Drew said in an emotional Twitter post on Saturday night. He continued “To all of my players, past, present, and future, you know how I feel about you, but just in case you haven't heard it in a while... I love you guys. We love you Cole. We love you Sadi.”

A separate Facebook post remembering Young and Connors said that the couple’s dog also had been killed in the crash, though that was not confirmed in the initial report from police.

Lard was cited for improper lane use and failure to reduce speed to avoid a crash.

The driver and passenger in the Chevy pickup refused medical treatment following the crash.

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