BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, N.J. – New Jersey State Police say that a van carrying 13 people careened into two vehicles and a cattle trailer stopped on the shoulder of Route 287 South in Bernards Township last night at 10:30 p.m., killing three and injuring 12.
"I think that I've lost my son today,” weeped Nina Kadakia, a close family-friend of one victim, 23-year-old Ravi Naik.
Investigators say that 43-year-old Troy Chase of Pittston, Maine had pulled his 2003 Dodge Ram over onto the shoulder. He got out to repair a trailer full of cattle that he was towing. Naik struck the trailer and then pulled over to check the damage. Xu Feng Ma was driving the Ford passenger van that then hit the trailer, truck, Naik’s car and Naik, who was outside his vehicle. The van ultimately swerved back onto the highway, crashing into center median.
Two passengers in the van were pronounced dead at the scene. Naik was pronounced dead an hour later at Morristown Medical Center.
"He was just standing on the sideline when this happened,” said Naik’s uncle, Tushar Desai, "That kind of makes you angry.”
Family members say Naik was on his way home from mentoring another young, first-generation Indian man.
“He spent his free time, his weekend, to visit a youth in the neighborhood. Just as like a big brother, for no reason,” said Neel Naik, a cousin.
Cars stretched up and down the block where the family lives on Saturday. Visitors poured in and out of the home to express their condolences.
Naik had just graduated from Rutgers University and landed his first job in New York.
"He had a job offer in North Carolina and because his grandfather was going through a very bad health condition,” explained a friend, "Ravi decided to stay back and not take that greatest offer for his first job, but to help his grandfather out staying home.”
The family said Naik’s mother refuses to believe he is gone. She is still waiting for her son to come home.