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General News

Young Greek-American Woman Killed in Tragic Car Crash in New Jersey

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Greek-American Maria Passalaris, 25, was tragically killed in a car accident on April 12 on Highway 1 near Princeton, NJ.

Passalaris who had special needs was the daughter of Dr. Ioannis and Eleni Passalaris. The family also has three other children, two daughters and a son between the ages of 16 and 22.

The news was announced by the radio station New Jersey News 101.5. It was a five-vehicle crash, according to Deputy Police Chief James Ryan, who said the vehicles were involved in the crash near Ridge Road.

According to the radio station, a tractor trailer transporting a concrete slab to a warehouse caused the accident by hitting a van at an intersection causing both vehicles to catch fire, while the van hit two other vehicles, Ryan noted.

“The van was owned and operated by Community Options, a Princeton-based organization that provides day programs for people with disabilities,” CBS News reported, adding, before the victims’ names were released, that “an employee of Community Options and two people with disabilities were killed.”

The three victims, the driver, Passalaris and the other special needs passenger also in his 20s, were on their way to their daily program.

“The driver of the tractor trailer survived and was treated for mostly minor injuries,” ABC7 Eyewitness News reported.

A team of police officers and accident investigators at the scene of the crash that took the life of Maria Passalaris. Photo: South Brunswick Police Department

“Our heart goes out to the two people with severe disabilities who we have supported and to the staff person. Our prayers are with their families and all of their loved ones. We are crestfallen and deeply saddened,” Community Options’ Robert Stack said in a statement, ABC7 reported.

Community Options supports people with disabilities and helps them lead independent lives.

South Brunswick Police Chief Raymond Hayducka alos released a statement on April 12, ABC7 reported: “Today has been a tragic day with three lives lost in this terrible crash. My heart goes out to the families and friends. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”

According to her obituary, Passalaris “loved attending church services at St. George Greek Orthodox Church where she was an active member and beloved by the community. She was also an honorary member of the church choir.”

Passalaris “loved swimming, horseback riding, family, friends, parties, and travel. She was an athlete for Special Olympics where she competed in Track & Field events for many years. Maria was a loving and sweet soul who will be missed dearly by all who knew and loved her.”

Family and friends may pay their respects on Saturday, April 20, 8-11 AM, at St. George Greek Orthodox Church, 1200 Klockner Road in Hamilton, NJ. The funeral service will follow at 11 AM. Burial will be held in the Greenwood Cemetery, Hamilton, NJ.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations please be made in Maria’s memory to either the Rett Syndrome Research Trust, 67 Under Cliff Road, Trumbull, CT 06611 or online at www.reverserett.org or to the International Rett Syndrome Foundation, 4500 Cooper Road, Suite 204, Cincinnati, OH 45242 or online at www.rettsyndrome.org.

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