SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – The five-people killed on township roadways this year are the highest number in five years and were mostly caused by distracted drivers, police said.

Township police released the latest traffic accident statistics for 2016 Friday morning.

According to the statistics from the department’s Traffic Safety Bureau, of the nearly 2,500 crashes that were investigated in 2016, five were fatal, the highest level in five years.

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Sgt. Gary Holsten of the traffic bureau said the most common factor in the deadly crashes was driver distraction.

“Motorists need to avoid distractions while driving and stop at red traffic signals,” he said.

The year started out badly with a 13-year-old girl killed and seven others injured, in a two-vehicle crash on Route 1 and Deans Lane.

Blanca Azucena Hernandez Vargas, 13, Toms River, was killed in the 5:13 a.m. accident at the intersection.

According to police, her brother, Azel Hernandez Vargas, 27, also of Toms River in Ocean County was issued summonses for running a red light, going straight in a turning lane and because his 13-year-old sister, a rear seat passenger in his car, was not wearing a seat belt, Capt. Jim Ryan said on Jan. 29.

Vargas was driving a 2005 Nissan Sentra ran through a red light as he took the jug handle from Route 1 south, crossing onto Deans Lane when he was hit broadside by a 2009 Nissan Quest minivan, operated by Paramjit Singh, 59, of North Brunswick, police said.

The collision sent the Sentra sideways into a utility pole on the side of Route 1 north, trapping the occupants inside.

The Monmouth Junction Fire Department used its Jaws of Life to free the five victims from the mangled wreckage, according to police.

Emergency crews transported Blanca Azucena Hernandez Vargas to Robert Wood University Hospital in New Brunswick in critical condition where she later died from her injuries, according to police.

The second crash on April 16 killed a 26-year-old Sayreville man on Route 535.

According to police, Robert Wayda Jr., 26, of Sayreville, was driving a 2000 Infiniti G20, heading north on Cranbury-South River Road at 3:31 a.m. April 16 when it left the road and overturned on the lawn of a business, police said.

Police and rescue crews responded and found Wayda ejected from the upside-down vehicle on the front lawn of the Consolidated Container Company.

Officials pronounced Wayda dead at the scene, police said.

The third crash took place two months later, on June 16.

In that accident, a 65-year-old Middlesex County woman was killed crossing Route 1 at Deans Lane, police said.

The unidentified woman was crossing the northbound lanes of Route 1 at 9:56 p.m. when she was struck and killed by a 2016 Subaru Impreza, driven by a 30-year-old unidentified Piscataway man, South Brunswick Police Chief Raymond Hayducka said in a joint press release with the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s office on June 17.

The driver stopped after hitting the woman, who was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

Charges were not filed in that crash.

The fourth fatal accident took place at the intersection of Route 535 and Route 32 on Sept. 27 and killed a 96-year-old Monroe man.

The 1:28 p.m. crash involved a Honda Accord that was making a left from Route 535 north to Route 32 west when it was hit on the passenger side by a BMW sedan headed south on Route 535, police said.

Police identified the 96-year-old senior as Ira Rothfarb, of Monroe, and said he was a passenger in the Accord and died because of the accident.

The Accord’s driver, Sheldon Rothfarb, was the 69-year-old son of the victim, also from Monroe, and was un-injured police said.

The driver of the BMW, identified by police as a 55-year-old male from Philadelphia, suffered minor injuries and was treated at the scene, according to police.

The accident is still being investigated.

The final fatal crash took place on Nov. 8 between an SUV and tractor-trailer on Route 1 at Raymond Road, killing one man and critically injuring another, police said.

According to police, John Jermill Williams, 29, of Hampton, Georgia died after the 2016 Ford Transit SUV he was driving was hit broadside by a 2005 Volvo tractor-trailer as he crossed Route 1 at the Raymond Road intersection at 9:22 p.m., police said.

Williams was crossing the northbound lanes of Route 1 from the Raymond Road jug handle when the truck, operated by Nohemi Farfan, 45, of Baytown, Texas hit the vehicle in the driver’s side, ejecting Williams onto the roadway, police said.

Emergency crews took Williams to the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro where he was pronounced dead at 10:44 p.m., police said.

A passenger in the SUV, an unidentified 17-year-old male from Philadelphia, was transported to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick where he was listed in critical condition, police said.

Farfan also went to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital for treatment and was later released, according to police.

The force of the crash drove the tractor-trailer on top of the concrete divider, straddling both the north and southbound lanes.

On Dec. 8, Police charged Farfan with reckless driving, careless driving, failure to observe traffic control device, and making an unsafe lane change.

The motor vehicle offenses carry a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and the potential for a license suspension, police said.

“As the roadways get more congested it is critical that drivers pay attention while driving. It only takes a split second to look away for disaster to happen,” Chief Hayducka said Friday. “We are committed to improving the safety of our roadways.”

Chief Hayducka outlined the comprehensive plan he has implemented the past several years to address traffic safety.

The plan has three components - awareness, education, and enforcement, police said.

Chief Hayducka said they are sharing the crash data so the public is aware of the dangers, and officers are providing education in the schools and through the police department’s community notification system.

Officers also work around the clock to address complaints and problem areas with enforcement efforts, he said.

“Working together we can all improve the safety of our roadways,” Chief Hayducka said.

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