SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – A cellphone may be to blame for a horrific Friday morning crash on Route 1 and Deans Lane that sent eight people to the hospital, three in critical condition, police said.

The accident took place around 5:13 a.m. as a Nissan Quest minivan heading north on Route 1 broadsided a Nissan Sentra crossing the highway onto Deans Lane, driving the Sentra sideways into a utility pole on the side of the highway.

According to police, the driver of the Sentra, which held three family members and two friends between the ages of 12-27 from Ocean County, may have been distracted by a cellphone and ran the red light while crossing over Route 1 when the Minivan struck the side of the car.

Sign Up for E-News

The minivan occupants included a husband and wife, both 59 from North Brunswick, and an adult relative, police said.

The five passengers in the Sentra were trapped inside the vehicle and had to be cut out by the Monmouth Junction Fire Department’s Jaws of Life, police said.

First aid squads from Monmouth Junction, Kendall Park, Kingston and North Brunswick took seven of the passengers to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, and one to St. Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick, according to police.

Three people in the Sentra, ages 12, 15 and 27 are listed in critical condition. The remaining five victims were treated for non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

Police said there are no indications that alcohol was involved in the accident.

The crash closed the northbound side of Route 1 for six hours as investigators documented the scene.