Driver Who Fatally Hit Teen Girl Left the Scene, Didn’t Call For Help, Cops Say
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP — The driver who fatally struck a 15-year-old Gloucester County high school student in April allegedly drove off from the scene didn't report the accident, Townsquare Media has learned.
But nearly two months later no criminal charges have been filed.
Gavyn Connolly, a freshman at Timber Creek Regional High School, was struck while she was crossing Route 42 near a carnival about 8:09 p.m. April 23. She died two days later at Cooper University Trauma.
Township police in April identified the driver as 21-year-old Sterling Knight, of Stratford. No other details have been released until now.
According to recordings of 911 calls obtained by Townsquare Media and interviews with police this week, the driver left the scene of the accident on Black Horse Pike.
Desperate calls for help
In one 911 call, a woman who rushed to Gavyn while she lay on the highway told a 911 dispatcher she watched the teenager get “flipped over” by the car that struck her.
“Baby? Baby, can you talk to me? Baby girl?” the woman says to Gavyn as the critically injured and unresponsive teen bleeds in the street.
Three callers to 911 told dispatchers the driver who struck Gavyn was no longer at the scene. Authorities released recordings for eight 911 calls — none of them placed by Knight.
"This car just hit a young lady and from what I see he kept going!" another 911 caller says. "The young lady is lying in the street ... He kept going!"
A spokesman for the township police said Thursday that Knight was issued traffic violations in connection to the incident, charging him with failing to stop after an accident, failing to report an accident, passing on the right and reckless driving.
Police Lt. Steven Rolando said that officers caught up with Knight in his 2011 Toyota Yaris shortly after the incident.
But police did not say whether Knight knew he had hit someone.
The Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office continues to investigate the April accident, Rolando said, and it would be the prosecutor’s decision whether to pursue a criminal case.
Traffic violations are normally handled by municipal courts unless a defendant also is charged criminally in connection to a motor vehicle incident. No court date has been set.
Saved lives after death
Gavyn’s family could not be reached Friday.
The teen's obituary says she “had a profound impact” on those who knew her.
After her death, her organs were donated and helped save the lives of five people, including a 12-year-old boy, her family said.
"Gavyn had a passion for academics and athletics serving as a National Honor Society member while playing on the Timber Creek High School field hockey, basketball, and track teams,” her obituary says. “Gavyn was a compassionate friend, fierce competitor and teammate, and loving daughter and sister.”
She is survived by her parents, a brother and sister, and her grandparents.
Ivy Rhodes, 15, a close friend and fellow freshman at Timber Creek Regional High School, told Townsquare Media in April Gavyn was a true independent — a combat-boot-wearing, once-purple-haired tomboy who loved princess and pop-emo bands. Connolly didn’t fit a simple mold — and she didn’t care to, Rhodes said.
“I’m just happy that she passed painlessly and peacefully,” Rhodes said.