Northeast Times

Crash at Franklin Mills claims three lives

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Two high school stu­dents and a 20-year-old died in a grisly one-vehicle crash out­side the Frank­lin Mills mall last Wed­nes­day night.

Po­lice be­lieve that ex­cess­ive speed played a ma­jor role in the crash in which two males were ejec­ted from the car, which rolled mul­tiple times, lost three wheels and came to rest on its roof in an oth­er­wise empty park­ing lot between Sam’s Club and the Beth­el Church.

The vic­tims were An­thony Christensen, 20, of Ben­s­alem; Chris­toph­er Al­calde, 17, of Sum­mer­dale; and Lucre­cia San­tam­aria, 15, of Trenton. Al­calde was a stu­dent at North­east High School, while San­tam­aria at­ten­ded Ben­s­alem High School, though she re­portedly had re­cently moved out of that com­munity.

The ac­ci­dent oc­curred just be­fore 8 p.m. on the 900 block of Frank­lin Mills Circle. Ac­cord­ing to Chief In­spect­or Scott Small of the Phil­adelphia po­lice, of­ficers ar­rived on the scene to find an over­turned ma­roon 1995 Pon­tiac Grand Prix. Christensen and Al­calde were ly­ing on the pave­ment and un­re­spons­ive, while San­tam­aria was pinned in­side the car.

Para­med­ics ar­rived and pro­nounced the two males dead with­in minutes. San­tam­aria, who ap­peared to be the only one that had been wear­ing a seat belt, was ex­tric­ated from the front pas­sen­ger seat and treated at the scene. The med­ics pro­nounced her dead at about 8:20 p.m.

Ac­ci­dent in­vest­ig­at­ors de­term­ined that the vehicle had been trav­el­ing north­bound on Frank­lin Mills Circle “at a high rate of speed.” Christensen, who was driv­ing, lost con­trol of the car on a left-hand bend. The car struck curb­ing on the peri­met­er of the park­ing lot and began to tumble.

Three wheels broke from the car, with at least one com­ing to rest dozens of yards away. The car left a long trail of oth­er debris, in­clud­ing the bat­tery, which had broken from the en­gine com­part­ment, Small said.

Christensen lived with his fath­er, broth­er and sis­ter in a nearby apart­ment com­plex at Knights and Dunks Ferry roads. San­tam­aria re­portedly was a friend of Christensen’s young­er sis­ter, Mar­tina, and worked at Frank­lin Mills. Al­calde and San­tam­aria also were friends and ap­peared to­geth­er in pho­to­graphs pos­ted on Al­calde’s Face­book page, in­clud­ing his pro­file photo.

Christensen re­portedly worked at a tire store in Bris­tol Town­ship and had got­ten his driver’s li­cense less than six months ago, ac­cord­ing to a re­port pub­lished by philly­burbs.com that quoted the driver’s fath­er, Bruce Christensen.

About two hours after the crash, Bruce Christensen and oth­er fam­ily or friends ar­rived at the scene as tow trucks began to right the car. Po­lice re­strained the fath­er from ap­proach­ing the car as the vic­tims were already be­ing taken to the Phil­adelphia Med­ic­al Ex­am­iner’s Of­fice.

The res­ults of post-mortem ex­am­in­a­tions, in­clud­ing tox­ic­o­logy tests, are pending. ••

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You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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