Crossing guard: Truck driver shouted ‘Oh my God’ as boy was fatally struck

Submitted by New Jersey Truck Accident Attorney, Jeffrey Hark

fatal truck accident

Police investigate the scene of a fatal accident on Grant Avenue on Wednesday, June 17, 2015.

CRESSKILL — At first, it looked like the tractor-trailer couldn’t make the turn onto the quiet suburban road.

Then, there was screaming.

“Oh my God, oh my God,” a nearby crossing guard heard the driver scream.

The truck had struck 13-year-old Young Rok Lee, who had been riding his bicycle down Grant Avenue, police said. Lee was presumably on his was to Cresskill Middle School when a tractor-trailer turned left onto Grant Street and struck him, Cresskill police Detective Jason Lanzilotti told NJ Advance Media Wednesday afternoon. The middle schooler was pronounced dead at the scene, due to severe head trauma, he said. Lee was found with a backpack.

Much of Grant Avenue and the surrounding area was barricaded on Wednesday afternoon as authorities continued to investigate the incident. The tractor-trailer could still be seen late in the afternoon, stationary and cutting across Grant Avenue’s entire width at a diagonal. A crossing guard at Brookside Avenue and Bergen Terrace—at the bottom of the hill where the tractor trailer struck Lee—said she was at her post at the time of the 8:20 a.m. crash.

The guard, who wouldn’t provide her name because she didn’t have permission from her superiors to speak to the press, said the truck’s driver was distraught and screaming.

“It was just a tragic accident,” she said. “Nobody should be blamed.”

Lee recently started riding his bike to school, she said. She yelled at him on Monday for riding down Grant too fast. There’s nothing particularly dangerous about the intersection, though she said she doesn’t see large vehicles in the area too often.

“This is like any post. It’s at any post that this could happen,” she said “Any time you step out in that street, it’s a danger.”

Police have not released the name of the truck driver but have indicated that no charges have yet been filed. The crash is still under investigation. Representatives for JJ Maloney, whose company logo was on the tractor-trailer, wouldn’t comment on the incident.

At dismissal time at Cresskill Middle School, a few students indicated that they knew of Lee, but they didn’t know him well since he was in a different grade. Two eighth grade girls called him quiet, but “nice and sweet.” School officials wouldn’t allow NJ Advance Media to talk to additional students on school grounds.

Superintendent Michael Burke provided a letter he sent out to Cresskill residents about the student’s death, calling it a “tragic loss.” He said that counselors are available for students, but teachers will not be initiating class-wide discussions but “will respond appropriately as necessary.”

“Our teaching staff members are prepared to address the wide variety of emotions that may be expressed by the students,” he says in the letter.

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Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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