3 dead, 4 hurt in S. Jersey crashes

Three people were killed and four others seriously injured Tuesday morning in separate highway crashes in Gloucester County, state police said.

In the most recent accident, two people were killed and four others were seriously injured in the crash of a van about 6:10 a.m. on northbound Route 55 in Franklin Township, police said.

Officials said the van ran off the road and into a tree for reasons still under investigation.

Killed were the driver, whose name was not released, and a passenger identified as Norma Santiago, 47, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

Four other passengers, all from Cumberland County, were airlifted to Cooper University Hospital in critical condition, state police said. Only the driver, who died at the hospital, was wearing a seat belt.

In the earlier accident, a BMW slammed into the rear of a tractor-trailer and burst into flames at 5:25 a.m. at milepost 14.5 of the northbound New Jersey Turnpike in East Greenwich Township, said Trooper Jeff Flynn.

The BMW was pinned under the trailer and the driver, whose name was not immediately released, was pronounced dead at the scene, Flynn said. The truck driver was not hurt.

Both roadways were closed for some time after the separate accidents.