by Al DellaFave, OCPO
TOMS RIVER-Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato and Toms River Township Police Chief Mitch Little today announced the following investigation update regarding the Christmas Day pedestrian death of Keith Elliott, 45, of Toms River.
The initial accident was reported on December 25th, at approximately 10:38 am, when police and medical units were dispatched to the intersection of Highland Parkway and Herflicker Boulevard for a man lying in the roadway. Responding officers located the victim, later identified as Keith Elliott, 45, of Messenger Street in Toms River. Mr. Elliott was deceased and no lifesaving efforts were able to be performed.
The Ocean County Prosecutors Office, Ocean County Sheriff’s Department CSI, and Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office were called to the scene to assist Toms River Township Police in the investigation. Toms River Police Traffic Safety Officer Adam Koeppen and Ocean County Prosecutor Detective Michael Proto were designated the lead investigators on the case.
The initial investigation found that, prior to his death; Mr. Elliott left his residence and was believed to be walking to the bus terminal on Highland parkway. He was planning on taking a bus to Lacey Township where he was to spend Christmas Day with his family.
On December 26, 2016, members of the Toms River Police Department and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office responded to the scene to continue the investigation and observe traffic near the time of the incident. At approximately 10:15 am (approximate crash time) a NJ Transit bus traveling north on Highland Parkway made a right turn onto Herflicker Blvd. This bus was stopped and questioned as to its possible involvement regarding the prior day pedestrian fatal. The partnering detectives found that the driver, Wilford Anderson Jr., 60, of Sicklerville, NJ, had worked the previous day and while operating a different bus, did in fact turn onto Herflicker Blvd after exiting the bus terminal. They found further that Anderson did encounter a pedestrian near the area of the crash walking south towards the bus terminal who was trying to wave him down and board the bus. Anderson stopped the bus and allowed the pedestrian to cross in front of him while gesturing to him that he cannot board the bus. Anderson believed the pedestrian continued walking away from the bus toward the terminal as he made his turn onto Herflicker Blvd to continue his route.
OCPO Detectives would later secure video footage confirming the involvement of Mr. Anderson’s bus in the accident. An examination of the bus Anderson was operating at the time of the accident provided additional evidence that Keith Elliott was indeed struck by Anderson’s bus. Interviews of Anderson, as well as bus passengers, indicated that they allege they were not aware that Elliott had been struck.
The above event details are preliminary findings to date. The investigation continues.