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Driver in Route 70 Crash May Have Been on Phone, Police Say

Kyriph Wallace set off a chain-reaction wreck involving four cars, police said.

A crash on Route 70 involved four cars and injured at least four people Thursday afternoon, police said. Photo via Manchester Township Police.
A crash on Route 70 involved four cars and injured at least four people Thursday afternoon, police said. Photo via Manchester Township Police.

The driver of a Honda Civic that crossed over the dividing line and set off a four-car crash on Route 70 in Manchester Township early Thursday afternoon may have been texting and driving, Manchester Township Police said.

Kyriph Wallace, 19, of Lakewood, crashed head-on into a Subaru Forester after crossing into oncoming traffic around milepost 41.5 at about 12:45 p.m., police said, and the chain reaction involved a Ford E350 van and a Buick Lucerne, leaving multiple people injured.

Wallace and the Subaru's driver, Frank Dreifus, 74, of Whiting, both had to be flown from the scene, police said. Wallace suffered internal injuries and leg fractures, police said, and Dreifus suffered a head injury and a cracked vertebra; they were both flown to Jersey Shore University Hospital.

The other two drivers in the crash—David Rockhill, 70, of Whiting, and Elma Evans, 49, of Brick—weren't seriously hurt, police said, but were taken by ambulance to Community Medical Center in Toms River to be treated for head and knee pain.

Two other passengers in the Buick, Frank Trauger, 71 of Lambertville, and Giacinto D’Agostino, 72, of Cream Ridge, refused treatment at the scene, police said.

The crash remains under investigation by Manchester traffic officers Ptl. Antonio Ellis and Ptl. Thomas O’Hare; no cause was released or charges filed, though police indicated cell phone use has not been eliminated as a possible cause.

Assisting at the scene were paramedics from MONOC, EMTs from Quality Medical Transport, firefighters from the Whiting Volunteer Fire Department, the Lakehurst Volunteer Fire Company, Whiting Fire Police, New Jersey Department of Transportation Emergency Response Team, the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, the Ocean County Prosecutor's High Tech Crimes Unit, and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department Criminalistic Investigations Unit and members of the New Jersey State Police Fatal Accident Unit.

This article has been updated to reflect the correct responding companies at the scene.

John Williams October 31, 2013 at 08:31 PM
All the MPD has to do is check out his cell phone records..if on it and texting/chatting..he is guilty as sin!
John Williams October 31, 2013 at 08:33 PM
He's 19 go figure..its the new generation style!
John Williams October 31, 2013 at 08:57 PM
But then again..I see soccer moms galore yapping away everyday while driving!
chuckidl October 31, 2013 at 10:58 PM
I drive the Parkway every day and am frightened by the number of people texting and on their cells, doing 80 MPH in the fast lane. IF this driver is guilty, I hope they throw him in jail for years.
Mary Britton October 31, 2013 at 11:11 PM
My mom was one of the drivers who wasn't seriously hurt. While visiting her in the hospital, all she kept saying was how worried she was about the two that were seriously injured. She had actually cried for them. She didn't express any anger towards the person who was at fault. I can say that I was a little angry myself. I mean how could I not, right? This is my mom we are talking about. God forbid she could have lost her life out there today. While driving home from the hospital I just kept thanking god. I started wondering why she was not angry. After thinking about it all day, I finally realized that it really was just an accident. Being angry with him is not gonna make this situation disappear. He didn't do it on purpose nor is this something he planned to do. He was obviously careless. And this definitely could have been avoided. But he will have to live with this for the rest of his life. He will have to live with the fact that he could have killed a few people because if his careless mistake. He's so young and my heart does go out to him. I hope this is a wake up call for him and all these teenagers out there making the same mistakes. My son will start driving next year. I am scared to death that this could be him one day. It could have been anyone's kid out there today. I will definitely use what happened to his grandmother as an example to what happen when not paying attention. I hope that everyone that was involved with this is alright. I am definitely praying for them.
. November 01, 2013 at 12:00 AM
Sorry Mary Britton. This 19 year old didn't make a mistake. By being on the phone he broke the law as much as if he had been drunk while driving. I lost my cousin and her little boy on one Christmas Eve due to a drunk crossing over into oncoming traffic. It was not my mother that was involved, but I AM angry about it. He could have caused someone to lose their life. Police need to start cracking down on these cell phone talkers and texters. There is no excuse to do it while driving. Nothing is that important.
Whiting Girl November 01, 2013 at 01:07 AM
Whiting Girl I was driving this road today a few hours after the accident and as usual I had someone riding my bumper. She tried to pass me several times but there was too much traffic coming down on the other lane. I was doing the speed limit but she wanted to go faster. I wish i had a rubber bumper I'd have her clear into the woods where she belongs. Innocent people were hurt today and lucky they weren't killed. My heart goes out to those hurt by this stupid driver texting, sleeping, or what ever. hopefully he will have his license taken away for some time. And to all those drivers who do not obey the speed limit and have to pass every car at every opportunity do you get a prize when you get to your destination for being 2 minutes early?
RayneL November 01, 2013 at 09:01 AM
Don't be so quick to blame just the new teen drivers. Everyone is guilty. In fact just the other day I saw an elderly gentleman texting while driving in the lane next to me on 571. Another on the phone while 2 officers who I'm sure witnessed it, drove right by him without any intention of pulling this guy over for driving while on a cellphone.
Sharon H November 01, 2013 at 10:10 AM
I join those who disagree with Mary B's post. Nineteen is old enough to know better, period. The injured will also have to live with this, including but not limited to a possible fear of driving that may take years to overcome. I think that cell phones have become the bane of our society, regardless of age. And it's not just teens. To be fair, I've seen grown men jabbering away while pulling out into traffic right in front of me. Texting is even worse. Studies have shown that whether holding a phone in your hand or having it on speaker makes no difference--80% of people's attention is on the call rather than the road. Keep the phone in your purse or pant's pocket and pull over if you want to text or call. Simple.
Margie November 01, 2013 at 07:31 PM
All u ppl bashing him b4 the truth of the *accident* comes out.... maybe he fell asleep tho. U don't kno his life. He works and goes to college. Maybe its that simple. He could have been exhausted and had to get to school. Think about sh!t sometimes b4 u all come out of ur face accusing ppl
Margie November 01, 2013 at 07:35 PM
I have known kyriph since he was about 13. He is a good kid. His nickname is Ipod... I feel so bad for everyone involved. Everything on Ipod's left side of his body is broken. Been thru numerous surgeries and more to come. He is in a medically induced coma right now. I just pray that everyone learns from the mistakes other ppl make. I also pray for his full recovery. *come on Ipod, pull thru kid*
Sharon H November 08, 2013 at 08:26 AM
Margie, obviously you text a lot. Your posts show the usual language of "ppl" who are hard to take seriously because he/she is writing in shorthand. We all make mistakes and some mistakes have bigger consequences than others. Put down that phone, folks. Period. Next time someone may get paralyzed or die because you just had to be on that phone no matter what. I hope Ipod comes through this and gets to complete his education and will have a great life ahead of him. And also hopefully the other victims can eventually get on with their own lives. Maybe if some people actually saw accidents of this type (I have seen two within 1 1/2 weeks) will understand why I feel so strongly about this.
paul johnson jr November 29, 2013 at 09:55 AM
He should do a little jail time if found guilty of texting while driving. The this serves as a warning to others argument doesn't work. This isn't the first time that this has happened, why didn't those incidents warn this guy? He could have killed people.

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