12 children, plus one unborn, fatherless after July 4 crash
LAKEWOOD — The two people who died in a car crash on the Fourth of July in Jackson were heads of a mixed family that left 13 children without fathers, according to the attorney for Lakewood public schools.
The driver of a 1999 Nissan Pathfinder lost control about 3:30 p.m. on Faraday Avenue, crossed Houston Avenue and hit a utility pole, according to Jackson police Sgt. George Vidalis. The driver and passenger were the only people in the vehicle.
Vidalis did not disclose the identities deceased. Attorney Michael Inzelbuch would not disclose the name of men but described them as "two fathers, two breadwinners, two friends, two husbands, two very special people."
One was the father of four children. The other was father to five plus one unborn child.
He had also taken on the role of father to three children who lost their own father, Eric Galarza, when he was shot multiple times inside his home on Lucy Road in Lakewood on June 21. No arrests have been made in the case, according to the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.
Inzelbuch said the family members have moved out of their home and are temporarily living with relatives.
"We have 13 precious children (including the unborn child) who have been affected by these horrible incidents," Inzelbuch said. The children range in age, attending daycare and the Piner Elementary, Oak Street Elementary, middle and high schools.
"It's a gamut of children, age range, school range, all who live in Lakewood, all who have endured a horrible loss," Inzelbuch said.
Inzelbuch said he and grief counselors have visited with the children
"The Board of Education and administration send their condolences and we will be assisting in any way we can via social services and other such measures," Inzelbuch said in a video posted by the Lakewood Scoop.
Fundraising efforts are being organized by the school district, according to Inzelbuch.
"These are large families left without a breadwinner who are working but cannot work now. They're grieving," Inzelbuch said, noting that one of the mothers needs to be home for her young children.
There are also funeral expenses, according to Inzelbuch, who said the body of one of the fathers will be flown to Mexico.
"The Lakewood district has reached out to all its staff to help and we'll be reaching out to the greater community because in Lakewood despite everything you read with religions and color, funding and no funding we come together as a community: Jewish, non-Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Latino," Inzelbuch said.
Inzelbuch said ways for the public to donate would be announced soon.