An attempt to steal a car from a Clover Lane, Princeton, driveway led to the deaths of a 15-year-old Newark resident and a 61-year-old Kendall Park woman when the teenager, who was allegedly driving a stolen Jeep Grand Cherokee, slammed head-on into the woman’s Acura RDX sport utility vehicle on Route 27/Princeton-Kingston Road Nov. 7, according to the Princeton Police Department.
The chain of events that led to the fatal crash began at 12:40 p.m., when police were called to the Clover Lane home to investigate an attempted motor vehicle theft, according to information provided by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.
The victim told police that three people had entered his vehicle to try to steal it. They were riding in a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee that was later found to have been reported stolen from Pequannock Township.
While a police officer was investigating the attempted theft on Clover Lane, the officer saw the Jeep Grand Cherokee traveling west on Clover Lane. It was being followed by a 2015 Land Rover Range Rover, which had just been reported stolen from a Dodds Lane residence, according to officials.
The officer got into his car and followed the Range Rover on Clover Lane, while the Jeep Grand Cherokee drove off in an unknown direction. The officer tried to stop the Range Rover, but it suddenly accelerated, according to reports. He chased the Range Rover, but stopped the pursuit on Snowden Lane because of the driver’s reckless behavior, police said.
The Range Rover was last observed traveling south on Snowden Lane, and then turned left onto Princeton-Kingston Road. It was later recovered in Newark, where it had been abandoned, according to the statement.
Meanwhile, police were called at 1:09 p.m. to respond to Princeton-Kingston Road to investigate a crash that occurred near Carnegie Road.
When officers arrived, they found the Jeep Grand Cherokee had struck the 2016 Acura RDX head-on. The Jeep Grand Cherokee was traveling east and the Acura RDX was traveling west when it crossed the centerline and struck the Acura, police said.
The force of the impact pushed the Acura RDX on top of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The two sport utility vehicles came to rest on the north side of Princeton-Kingston Road.
The 15-year-old driver and the 61-year-old woman, identified as Jodi Marcou, were pronounced dead at the scene. A 14-year-old passenger in the Jeep Grand Cherokee, also from Newark, was taken to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton in critical condition, police said.
Princeton-Kingston Road was closed for several hours while police investigated the crash. A police car and a fire engine blocked access to Princeton-Kingston Road at the west end of the accident scene and the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad’s technical rescue truck blocked access from the east end.
The crash is under investigation by the Princeton Police Department and the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office. Witnesses should contact Princeton police Sgt. Thomas Murray at 609-921-2100, ext. 1879.
South Brunswick Mayor Charlie Carley directed that flags be lowered at the municipal building to honor the loss of township resident Marcou.
Marcou had served for years on the South Brunswick Human Relations Commission as a member and vice chair.
“Her commitment to making our community a better place was evident in her work on the Commission,” Carley said in a prepared statement. “We need more people in this world like Jodi, who made a difference by giving back.”
Marcou was employed as a development specialist at the School of Communication & Information at Rutgers University since 2018.
Her funeral services took place at Congregation B’nai Tikvah, North Brunswick, on Nov. 10.