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Montgomery Township Woman Killed in South Brunswick Crash on Route 1

By Barbara A. Preston | Posted April 18, 2024


A 25-year-old woman from Montgomery Township was one of three people who died in a multi-vehicle crash on Route 1 at Ridge Road in South Brunswick on Friday, April 12, at 9:26 am. 


An oversized tractor trailer carrying a large concrete slab collided with a van transporting two disabled adults to a central New Jersey adult care center. Maria Passalaris of the Skillman section of the township, the other passenger, and the van driver died on the scene.


Maria Passalaris

Maria Passalaris


Passalaris, who suffered from Rett Syndrome, was a beloved figure in the Montgomery Township community. The Passalaris family included her in every gathering and outing, according to a family friend. “Her presence infused joy and unity into their shared experiences,”  he said. “The Passalaris family’s love for Maria and each other was an inspiration to the entire Montgomery community.”



South Brunswick police said the tractor trailer had struck the van at the intersection of Ridge Road and Route 1. The van then struck two other vehicles and the tractor trailer caught fire. Police, fire, and EMS responded to the scene.


“Today has been a tragic day with three lives lost in this terrible crash. My heart goes out to the families and friends,” said South Brunswick Police Chief Raymond Haydukca in a released statement, “Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers."


Scene of the accident on Route 1 in South Brunswick. (From PIX11)


Founder and CEO of Community Options, Inc, Robert Stack, announced the death in an online video. The nonprofit organization, headquartered in West Windsor (Princeton address) serves thousands of individuals with disabilities throughout 12 states.


“Community Options lost three souls to a tragic accident, on Route 1 and Ridge Road,” Stack said. “Our heart goes out to the two people with severe disabilities who we’ve supported, and the staff person. Our prayers are with their families and all of their loved ones and we are crestfallen and deeply saddened by this horrific event.”


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South Brunswick Deputy Chief Jim Ryan told PIX11 that the victims died on impact. He said first responders had no chance to save the victims.


The crash caused miles of traffic delays, especially for those heading north on Route 1. Drivers had to take a detour onto Ridge Road to Route 130, or to the New Jersey Turnpike to continue north.


Ryan told reporters they had to bring in a crane to lift the slab of concrete off the truck, and put it onto another truck. The road itself had to be paved over, he said. And, the truck from the fire was embedded into the highway.


Route 1 northbound was closed to vehicles almost 12 hours, until about 9 pm on Friday.


Details of how these two vehicles came together are still being investigated. Police said the driver of the truck escaped with minor injuries.


Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone said the investigation is active and continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Officer Bryan Sites of the South Brunswick Police Department at 732.329.4646 or Sergeant Jonathan Berman of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at

732.745.4328.



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