How TCNJ community is coping with deadly, devastating crash
EWING — The head-on crash involving five students from The College of New Jersey has had a strong impact on the students, staff and faculty that make up the campus community.
A total of eight people were involved in the crash early Sunday morning on Route 31 just south of the Ewing campus. TCNJ identified five people in the crash as students: Danielle DeFlores, 21, an open options major from Brick, Matthew DeGenova, 21, an accounting major from Wall Township, Anthony Galante, 19, a finance major from North Bellmore, New York Ryan Moore, 21, a marketing major from Midland Park and Michael Sot, 20, a math major from Clark. Moore's girlfriend, Jenna Passero, of Midland Park, was also seriously injured.
David Lamar V, 22, of West Windsor was trying to pass a car in front of him when he crossed a double yellow line into the northbound lane and into the path of the 2007 Dodge Charger driven by Sot, 20, of Clark, according to the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office. Sot was the designated drier for the night.
Sot passed away from his injures, which included a traumatic brain injury, liver laceration and a broken right femur, on Tuesday. Four students remained hospitalized as of Thursday, two in serious condition.
TCNJ is a medium-sized college with a student population of 7,000, with a "small close knit circle" that shakes easily when faced with a tragedy such as a student death or illness, according to Dean of Students Dr. Jordan Draper.
In the case of Sunday's crash, having five students who were involved in many different areas of the Ewing campus made the impact that much greater.
"Just the nature of how the incident occurred and it being around finals, I think all those things combined, have just really made this a difficult time for all of the TCNJ community, especially the students that have friends with or know all five of the students," Draper said.
TCNJ's administration and several campus groups are working together to help provide an outlet for grief. Draper said a group of administrators works together and with students who may be directly impacted when there is tragedy on campus and take a team approach to address an incident at a campus level.
Following the crash, students signed several large "get well" cards in the student center and a vigil is planned for next week.
Counseling and Psychological Services, along with faculty and graduate students from the Department of Counselor Education, have scheduled post-intervention group counseling support sessions for any students, faculty, or staff members who need to talk. The Pan-Hellenic Council is bringing therapy dogs for a visit on Friday and next Tuesday.
Students who are friends with the five victims on their own have offered support for the families who are at the side of the injured who are still hospitalized in an "above and beyond effort," Draper said
"They brought families breakfast, lunch and dinner. They've organized in conjunction with the college different hotel rooms. The families I've spoken to recently said that's been some of the most impactful pieces of just how much the community has come together," Draper said.
The dean also said it's also helping to build a camaraderie among different groups with a feeling of dealing with this situation together.
Sot's funeral service will be held Sunday at the Higgins & Bonner Funeral Home in Westfield at 3 p.m. Friends are requested to attend a Mass at St. John the Apostle in Clark Monday at 10 a.m.