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Jackson Memorial Baseball Player Dies in Accident Near Route 37 Circle

Two teammates suffered minor injuries in the violent Friday night crash

A member of the Jackson Memorial High School baseball team was killed Friday night in an auto accident that also injured two others.

James Volpe, 17, was killed in the two-car accident, which occurred at 8:45 p.m. in front of the Texaco gas station, 200 Route 37, Lakehurst, police said. Volpe was a back-seat passenger in a 2004 Lincoln that was split in two by the impact of the collision.

Volpe, a senior reserve outfielder and an often used designated runner, was reportedly ejected from the vehicle after the car in which he was a passenger collided with a 2001 Ford Escape driven by Robert Vallee, 41, of Manchester.

Vallee was exiting the Lakehurst circle onto Route 37 East when the accident took place, according to the police investigation.

According to police, Alex Daniele and Christopher Russo, both 17, also Jackson Memorial High School baseball players, were in the front seat of the Lincoln.  

Deputy Chief Michael Mohel of the Ocean County Prospecutor's Office did not reveal which teen was driving at the time of the accident, but sources have told  Patch that is was Daniele, a junior pitcher.

According to initial reports, police said Volpe was thrown from the auto on impact. He was found to be in cardiac arrest, according to police at the scene. 

Volpe was pronounced dead at the scene, at about 9:30 p.m., police said. 

EMS personnel who were first to respond to the scene requested two ALS ambulance units, MONOC paramedics and the MONOC 1 medevac helicopter.

The two injured players were transported to Community Medical Center in Toms River. Their injuries were minor, according to police. They were treated at the hospital and released on Saturday.

Vallee, who suffered critical injuries, according to police, was flown by MONOC 1 to the trauma unit at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune. The helicopter arrived at the the medical center around 2 a.m.

Vallee was listed in critical condition on Saturday, according to police.

The wreckage of the two vehicles may indicate whether or not speed was a factor in the accident, Mohel said.

Volpe was best known for his wit and his love of the baseball Mets and the football Jets. He was planning to attend Kean University in the fall.

Russo, also a senior, went 3-for-3 at bat and helped Jackson Memorial overcome a 5-0 deficit on Thursday in the Jaguars' 7-5 victory over Toms River North in the quarterfinals of the Ocean County Baseball Tournament.

According to the high school sports website MaxPreps.com, he was batting .353 with two home runs and 18 RBI.  He plays first base but is mostly used as a designated hitter.

Daniele, a junior,  is a starting pitcher on the Jaguars. He has given up only five runs in 19 innings pitched with a 3-0 record and a 1.84 earned run average.  He has 20 strikeouts in 19 innings. 

Jackson Memorial (15-3), the No. 2 seed in the tournament, was scheduled to play No. 14-seed Lacey at 2 p.m. on Saturday in the semifinals but all games in the OCT were postponed indefinitely because of the fatal crash.

In the first game at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Toms River High School North, Brick was to play Toms River South.

According to tournament officials, there will be no games played until Jackson Memorial school officials say they are prepared to resume play.

Volpe's teammates, many with tears in their eyes, gathered at the school's baseball field on Saturday, recalling stories about him.  .

A candlelight vigil was planned on Saturday night at the Holbrook Little League on Bartley Road in Jackson, where Volpe was an all-star Little League player.

The Manchester Fire Company, Ocean County Station 32, also was dispatched to the scene on Friday night as a mutual aid company to assist the Barnegat Fire Company, Ocean County Station 11.

Because of the accident and the subsequent investigation, Route 37 was closed from Colonial Drive to the Routes 37/70 circle, according to an eyewitness. Traffic was being detoured down Colonial Drive to Route 70, the eyewitness told Patch.com.

It was not known how long the roadway was closed while police and the Prosecutor's Office conducted their investigation of the accident.

The Lakehurst, Manchester and Toms River police departments all responded to the accident scene as well as security personnel from the nearby Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station.

Investigators are asking anyone with information about the accident to contact Detective David Margentino of the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office at 732-929-2027, Ext. 2946, or Lakehurst Patrolman Matt Kline at 732-657-7812, Ext. 312. 

This story was updated at 9 a.m. on Sunday.

WhyohWhy May 24, 2011 at 12:59 PM
Very true TP... very true. Horrible horrible nightmare .
Frank June 06, 2011 at 02:29 PM
We are still waiting Jayne and all who asked us to. Are they still doing tests to determine substance abuse? Will any summons be issued? Is this one more gigantic Ocean County coverup?
Frank June 06, 2011 at 02:30 PM
Btw, I thought the Patch wold be better than the AP Press. Now someone told me that Gannett owns Patch as well. We have no independent voice in Ocean County!
Hawks57 June 30, 2011 at 02:16 AM
Can't agree more with you. There has been a huge rise in Motor Vehicle Accidents (MVAs) in our area lately and most of them have to deal with DUI/DWI and iratic driving. Its time people retake their driving test and stop wasting the time of the Police and our Firefighters who are all volunteer (except some in Jackson).
Hawks57 June 30, 2011 at 02:18 AM
Till this day, I still remember hearing "Stations 62 and 63, for a motor vehicle accident at the gas station on Route 37 and Route 70." and a few more minutes later.. "Stations 32 and 34, Assisting in Lakehurst for the motor vehicle accident" Friends told me, worst accident they've been to.

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