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Philip B Friedman | Andrew J. Conner | Steven E. "Tim" Riley, Jr. | William P. Weichler

3 hurt, 2 dead in I-81 crash near Scranton

Two young adult men became friends as children and drew closer as they aged, graduating together from high school, sharing the same interests and friends. The men described by family members as "brothers" lost their lives in a tragic single-vehicle car accident.

Police in Susquehanna County say the fatal auto accident took place in the overnight hours on a stretch of Interstate 81 above Scranton. Five young people from New Jersey were in the vehicle when the car shot off the road, rolled up an embankment and flipped over multiple times.

The 20-year-old driver and his 21-year-old friend died after being ejected from the vehicle. Three male teenagers, all age 19, survived the ordeal. Police identified the passengers but did not report the injuries they received or the teens' medical conditions.

Relatives were not certain where the five young men were headed at 1 a.m. on a Sunday morning.

Authorities said very little about the injuries and deaths caused by the accident. Investigators will certainly conduct toxicology tests to eliminate or confirm the use of alcohol or other intoxicating substances by the underage driver.

An accident reconstruction crew could determine whether the vehicle was speeding or a mechanical problem suddenly caused the driver to lose control. State police will learn whether and when the driver applied the brakes. Investigators will look for evidence of distraction like records of cellphone calls and text messages.

The most accurate answers to questions about the fatal accident may come from the recovering victims. The 19-year-olds may remember what happened in the final seconds before the wreck. Evidence of what the driver was saying or doing can help determine whether negligence caused the fatal crash.

The families of the deceased and injured victims may decide to file a legal action for wrongful death or personal injury to recover the economic damages caused by the accident. Compensation for medical bills, burial and funeral expenses and other costs could be included in a jury award or settlement.

Source: nj.com, "Two Union County men ejected, killed in rollover crash in Pennsylvania," Oct. 16, 2012

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