An afternoon accident at the intersection of state highways 70 and 88 sent three people to area hospitals and resulted in one driver being issued a summons for using a cell phone while driving.
The three-car accident occurred at 2:39 p.m. Thursday, according to police. All three of the drivers involved were waiting at a red light on Route 70 at the intersection at the time.
According to Brick Police Sgt. David Bedrosian, after the light turned green, Shannon C. Straniero, 19, of Brick, proceeded eastbound on the highway in her 2002 Mazda Tribute, but drifted into the westbound lanes and struck two other vehicles, both of which had stopped before the impact.
The force of the impact caused a 2007 Acura MDX being driven by Maria T. Falcon, 51, of Point Pleasant, to be pushed backwards and collide with a 1999 Cadillac DeVille being driven by Jesse W. Leyble, 74, of Toms River.
All three vehicles came to a final rest on the west side of the Laurelton Interchange in the left eastbound travel lane, Bedrosian said.
Straniero was taken to Jersey University Medical Center, Neptune, where she was being treated for internal chest and stomach injuries in the hospital's trauma unit. Falcon and her passenger, Raymond Wagner, 19, of Point Pleasant, were treated at Ocean Medical Center for leg, arm and shoulder injuries.
Officers Tara Schinder John Turrin, as well as Bedrosian and Sgt. Robert Hine were the first arriving units on scene. Turrin is conducting the crash investigation, Bedrosian said.
"Based on Officer Turrin’s investigation, [Straniero] was found to be at fault for the crash and was issued two motor vehicle summonses," said Bedrosian.
The summonses were for careless driving and use of a wireless telephone for texting by an operator of a motor vehicle.
Several of the eastbound lanes of Route 70, on the west side of the interchange, were closed for between 45 and 60 minutes. Congestion in the area was heavy as a result of the crash.
In addition to township police officers, Brick Police EMS, the Laurelton Fire Company and MONOC paramedics responded.
"Distracted driving continues to be a dangerous epidemic on our roadways," said Bedrosian, in a statement. "All drivers are reminded that it is a violation in New Jersey to use a wireless telephone or electronic communication device by an operator of a moving motor vehicle. Distracted driving is anything that takes your eyes or mind off the road or your hands off the steering wheel - especially texting and cell phone use."