LINCROFT: MOTORCYCLIST DIES IN CRASH

By JOHN T. WARD

AUTHORITIES_MTOWN-2016-v2[Update, May 17: The victim in this crash was Marc Gardner, 62, of Long Branch, police said.]

A motorcyclist was killed in a one-vehicle crash in Lincroft Sunday afternoon, police said.

The crash occurred on West Front Street just east of Shady Oaks Way at 2:52 p.m., according to Deputy Chief Steve Dollinger.

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MIDDLETOWN WOMAN, 20, DIES IN CRASH


The accident occurred on Oak Hill Road near Princeton Street, police said.

A 20-year-old Middletown woman died in a single-vehicle crash on Oak Hill Road in the township early Saturday, according to news reports.

Police Detective Lieutenant Stephen Dollinger told the Asbury Park Press that Katherine Arliss was driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee near Princeton Street when the accident happened around 12:40 a.m.

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‘EVERYTHING WAS RIGHT’ IN CYCLIST’S LIFE

meg porter 2 111113Megan Porter at her Shrewsbury home earlier this month. Her husband, Cole, below, on the morning of his fatal accident. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

cole porter 091513He was going to win this one, his widow says.

Six years into a personal gut job, Cole Porter had transformed himself from a heavy-smoking, overweight electrician and handyman into… well, as his wife, Megan, put it, in a comically theatrical voice, “Cole Porter, you are ironman!

Ironman as in triathlete: swimmer, biker, runner. He’d gone all-in, and with such infectious energy that she followed his lead, as their two young daughters later did, too. It was something they all did together now. Even Faye, at age 10, had already completed an adult sprint tri.

At age 38, though, Porter had decided he would focus on cycling for the coming year. And onlookers that sunny September morning in Fair Haven should not have been fooled by all his laughing and chatting at the starting line – so much in fact that a race official asked him, please, sir, can we have your attention? That was just Porter being his irrepressible self. Inside, he carried a determination to win.

And, as if right on script, as the pack of whirring racers completed the first lap of the first race, Porter was in the lead when he spotted his three “girls” standing on the sidewalk.

Megan raised her camera and snapped a photo as he approached. He was smiling that smile that had captivated her from the day they met.

Seconds later, there was a crash.

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RED BANK WOMAN DIES AFTER ACCIDENT

A 27-year-old Red Bank woman died after being struck by a vehicle while walking in a Middletown parking lot Monday morning, township police said.

Janet Ramos-Morales, whose street address was not immediately given, was hit at 11:24 in the lot of the Bank of America branch at the intersection of Route 35 and Navesink River Road, the MTPD said in an announcement issued late Monday night.

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COW PUT DOWN AFTER RIVER PLAZA ACCIDENT

One of the two cows that got loose in lower Middletown early Tuesday. Her half-sister was destroyed by police after she was struck by a car. (Photo courtesy of Mary McGrath. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

One cow was struck by a car and had to be euthanized after she and her half-sister wandered away from a farm in the River Plaza section of Middletown early Tuesday morning, police said.

The accident occurred at about 12:20 a.m. on West Front Street near Chris’ Deli, police said.

The sight of the second cow on the loose in a residential development near the Navesink River caused a stir among neighbors.

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CIRCUMSTANCES OF TEEN’S DEATH A MYSTERY

A roadside memorial to Jillian Dinger, below, at the scene of the accident in which she was fatally injured. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A 19-year-old Fair Haven woman home from college for Easter weekend died as a result of a pre-dawn accident on Harding Road in Little Silver last Friday, police said Monday.

Jillian Dinger, of Spruce Drive, died at Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune eight hours after being struck by a car driven by another Fair Haven resident at about 3:15 a.m., said police Chief Dan Shaffery.

Authorities are still piecing together the circumstances under which Dinger, a 2011 graduate of Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High, was found alone and severely injured near the center line of the road, opposite the entrance to the Alderbrook condo community, he said.

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DRIVER PLEADS GUILTY IN PRINCIPAL’S DEATH

img_6457Students and parents mourn the death of Markham Place School principal Donald Merce in May, 2008. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The motorist who killed Little Silver middle school principal Donald Merce in an automobile accident in 2008 pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in federal court Wednesday, the Asbury Park Press reports.

Dennis Smentkowski, a 46-year-old retired Long Branch police officer, claimed he’d taken four times the recommended dosage of the sleeping aid Ambien before he plowed into 58-year-old Merce’s car outside the east gate of Fort Monmouth on Oceanport Avenue, killing him instantly, the newspaper said.

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COPS: BODY FOUND, BOAT DRIVER WAS DRUNK

northoverThe command center in front of the mansion at 36 Northover Place in Middletown, where the victims of the boating accident came ashore, as seen at about 5 a.m. Sunday. (Click to enlarge)

An Atlantic Highlands man was charged with drunk driving in the Navesink River accident that killed the lone passenger of the boat he was operating and sent all five occupants of a second boat into the water Saturday night, State Police said Sunday morning.

The body of the victim, which had been missing after the 11:30 p.m. crash, was recovered from the river almost nine hours later, after being spotted by a State Police helicopter between Middletown and Fair Haven, said Sergeant Brian Polite.

An eyewitness gave redbankgreen a different account of the body’s recovery.

The name of the victim has not been released pending notification of next of kin, he said. [Update, 2:50 p.m.: NJ.com reports the victim was Christopher Plant, 50, from Keansburg.]

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THE WEEK IN REARVIEW

c-murphy-backSea Bright Fire Chief Chad Murphy looks at a mock vehicle accident just before his and two other volunteer departments started extrication drills last week. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Tragedy hit Middletown twice last week, with a man dying in a motorcycle crash and a family perishing in a six-alarm fire.

A roundup of all of last week’s news below.

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GAS LINE DUG UP AT MIDDLETOWN FIRE SCENE

135-statesireFour people are reported to have died in a fire that destroyed the house at 135 Statesir Place. Below, a gas meter removed by a crew from New Jersey Natural Gas. (Click to enlarge)

meterFire investigators and a crew from New Jersey Natural Gas were on the scene following a fire that was reported to have killed four people in Middletown early Tuesday morning.

Scant information about the blaze had been released by authorities by mid-morning as officials sought to contact relatives of the dead, said to be four adults.

A neighbor said the fire, at 135 Statesir Place, happened at about 3a.

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PRESS: FOUR DEAD IN MIDDLETOWN FIRE

just_in1Four people have died in a house fire in Middletown, the Asbury Park Press reports on its website Tuesday.

The fire occurred on Statesir Place, between Pine and Chestnut Streets, the Press says. No time of the fire is given, though the newspaper says that firefighters remained on the scene at 8a Tuesday.

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MIDDLETOWN MAN DIES IN PARKWAY CRASH

State police have charged an Ocean County man with drunken driving after an accident that killed a Middletown man on the Garden State Parkway Saturday night, NJ.com reported Sunday.

Kevin Donnelly, 43, died in the crash, which occurred when a car driven by Eric Pereira, 20, of Jackson struck the rear of Donnelly’s minivan around 11p in the southbound local lanes near mile marker 120, the Press reports.

NJ.com, citing State Police, says Donnelly, a father of five boys and a copy editor on the sports desk at the Staten Island Advance, was pronounced dead at the scene.

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