2008-03-05 / Front Page

Death of boys, 12 & 13, shakes community

Two youngsters were on Bar Harbor Road when struck; circumstances unclear
BY CLARE MARIE CELANO Staff Writer

The combination of two preteen boys on a Freehold Township residential street at dusk and a minivan being driven on the same street turned deadly on Feb. 27.

JEFF GRANIT staff Anthony Viscuso, 12, pays his respects at a memorial for Kevin Clawson and Graeme Preston at the spot on Bar Harbor Road, Freehold Township, where the two boys were struck and killed by a minivan on Feb. 27. Anthony attended the Eisenhower Middle School with Kevin and Graeme and was friends with the boys. JEFF GRANIT staff Anthony Viscuso, 12, pays his respects at a memorial for Kevin Clawson and Graeme Preston at the spot on Bar Harbor Road, Freehold Township, where the two boys were struck and killed by a minivan on Feb. 27. Anthony attended the Eisenhower Middle School with Kevin and Graeme and was friends with the boys. The incident that claimed the lives of the boys who were struck and killed by the minivan is under investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office.

As of Monday, it remained unclear whether the boys, ages 12 and 13, were walking in the street or riding skateboards in the street when they were struck by a minivan on Bar Harbor Road in the Juniper Farms development off Route 9, according to First Assistant Prosecutor Peter E. Warshaw Jr.

That question and many others are part of an ongoing investigation into what happened.

What is known is that the two boys were on Bar Harbor Road at about dusk, and at 6:04 p.m. they were struck by a Dodge minivan that was being driven by Frederick Eckhardt, 84, of Freehold Borough.

JEFF GRANIT staff Anthony Viscuso, 12, Olivia Cannarozzi, 11, and Brittany Cannarozzi, 13, pay their respects at a streetside memorial for Kevin Clawson and Graeme Preston. Both boys were struck and killed by a motorist on Bar Harbor Road, Freehold Township, on Feb. 27. JEFF GRANIT staff Anthony Viscuso, 12, Olivia Cannarozzi, 11, and Brittany Cannarozzi, 13, pay their respects at a streetside memorial for Kevin Clawson and Graeme Preston. Both boys were struck and killed by a motorist on Bar Harbor Road, Freehold Township, on Feb. 27. According to Warshaw, "Although the incident is still under investigation, it does not appear to be criminal in nature. It appears to be an accident."

Warshaw said no summonses were issued and no charges were lodged against Eckhardt.

Kevin Clawson, 13, of Koenig Lane, Freehold Township, was pronounced dead on Feb. 27 at CentraState Medical Center, Freehold Township, shortly after the accident occurred.

Graeme Preston, 12, of Broadway, Freehold Township, died on the afternoon of Feb. 28 at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Neptune.

Both boys were pupils at the Eisenhower Middle School, Freehold Township.

According to Warshaw, both boys were dressed in dark clothing when they were struck. It is not known if either or both boys were wearing a helmet, which would have been required if they were skateboarding.

Warshaw said that "speed did not appear to be an issue" in this case. When asked if he could confirm that the boys were actually in the street, he said that had yet to be determined.

The speed limit on Bar Harbor Road, which is off Three Brooks Road, is 35 mph.

The story that brought tragedy to three families - the two boys who were killed and the driver who struck them - brought people together for a prayer service at St. Rose of Lima Chapel, Freehold Borough, on Feb. 28. The chapel remained open until 10 p.m. to provide those who were grieving with a place for quiet prayer and reflection.

The Preston family and the Eckhardt family are St. Rose parishioners.

Officials at the Eisenhower Middle School, where both boys were seventhgraders, provided counseling for students to help the children cope with what had happened to their fellow students.

According to Freehold Township Superintendent of Schools William Setaro, upon hearing about the accident, the district's school crisis team was convened to provide support for all district students, parents and staff members. The Eisenhower Middle School was open on Feb. 27 from 5:30-10 p.m. for grief counseling, according to Setaro.

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