FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP (Somerset) — Three friends who graduated together as part of Franklin High School's class of 2014 are being mourned by their families and the community after a deadly crash in Middlesex County.

Brianna Martinez, 23, Michaela Powell, 23, and Uchechukwu Chukwuma, 24 died after a night out Friday, when the Nissan Altima they were in rear-ended a tractor trailer stopped for a red light on Route 1 north at Ford Avenue in Woodbridge, according to Woodbridge Mayor, John McCormac.

Martinez was the driver during the crash, township police said.

"Franklin has been struck with a tragedy," Franklin Township Mayor Phil Kramer said in a statement.

NBC 4 New York reported the three were celebrating Chukwuma's birthday.

The New York Post reported Powell posted clips to her Instagram story that show the three women "drinking, dancing and toasting each other" in the hours before the crash. Instagram video posted by the Daily Mail shows the group appear to have spent part of the night at the Stage House Restaurant in the Somerset section of the Franklin Township, according to the location being tagged in a clip.

Powell was about to get a degree from Montclair State university, Vice President for Student Development and Campus Life Karen Pennington said in a statement.

"We are deeply saddened to hear about the tragic death of our Red Hawk, Michaela S. Powell. She was on track to complete her degree requirements at the conclusion of this semester and had a bright future ahead of her. On behalf of the entire Montclair State University community, I send our sincere condolences to Michaela's family and friends. May you all find peace during this difficult time." Pennington said in a statement.

Powell also is the daughter of Democratic and environmental activist Linda Powell, who serves on the Franklin Advisory Board of Health.

Chukwuma was a 2018 graduate of Syracuse University and the director of Legal & Hip Hop Affairs for Walker & Associates, an Atlanta based entertainment law firm. Law firm partner James Walker told he was a mentor to her and he considered her to be like a daughter.

Walker also told in the same report that Chukwuma was attending John Marshall Law School in Atlanta.

A GoFundMe page was created by Kelssy Marte to help with funeral expenses for all three women had raised over $9,000 as of Sunday morning. GoFundMe has verified the account as legitimate.

Crash scene on Route 1 in Woodbridge (RLS Metro Breaking News)

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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