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One Dead in New Jersey Ambulance Crash

WHITE TWP. - An ambulance crashed head-on into a tree Thursday on Route 519, killing a woman being transported and injuring two emergency medical workers, police said. The ambulance slammed into the tree about 3:30 p.m. while heading south toward Route 46.

The vehicle was en route from Newton Memorial Hospital in Sussex County to the Warren Haven nursing home in Mansfield Township, according to state police. Authorities pronounced a 68-year-old Warren County resident dead at the crash, police said. Her family had yet to be reached at 9 p.m. Thursday, so police were withholding her identity.

The ambulance driver, George A. Morris Jr., 62, of Mine Hill, N.J., was brought to Morristown Memorial Hospital for treatment for minor injuries. Glenn L. Brodt, 36, of Allentown, an emergency medical worker in the rear of the ambulance with the patient, was flown to St. Luke's Hospital Fountain Hill, for treatment for pain in his right arm and a cut to the head.

The ambulance belongs to Morristown, N.J.-based Atlantic Ambulance Corp. Joan Lebow, a company spokeswoman, said this was the first fatal crash involving Atlantic Ambulance. David Acevedo was driving behind the ambulance in a white pickup truck and said the ambulance suddenly swerved to the right and headed straight into the tree. Acevedo pulled over, jumped out of the truck, dialed 911 and ran to the ambulance. Pinned inside the ambulance, Morris was yelling and Acevedo told him to stay still, fearing he would hurt himself even further. Morris seemed to be traumatized as if he didn't know what was going on, Acevedo said. "I was in shock," Acevedo recalled at the crash. "No animals around. No cars in front. Nothing. It's not like something pulled out in front of them. ... Freaky."

Car crashes are known to occur on that section of Route 519, Karen Dunaj said while watching emergency responders from the driveway of her house across the street from the wreckage. Dunaj was walking toward her front door when she heard the crash and spun around to see what happened. Dunaj ran inside the house to call 911 and her husband, who was also home and works as a firefighter and emergency medical technician in Bloomfield, N.J., rushed to the ambulance. "It's complete chaos," said Dunaj, standing beside her 5-year-old daughter, Sarah, and a family friend, 8-year-old Emily Bussard. "Everything just happened so fast."

Reporter Bill Wichert can be reached at 610-258-7171, ext. 3570, or by e-mail at bwichert@express-times.com

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