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New Jersey American Water employee killed, 3 injured in accident on White Horse Pike in Magnolia

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A utility worker was killed and three others were injured in a Camden County community Wednesday morning when a motorist collided with New Jersey American Water employees working on a section of the White Horse Pike, police said.

The accident occurred shortly before 10 a.m. in Magnolia County, Police Chief John Huston said, when a driver apparently tried to enter or exit a nearby parking lot and drove into the cordoned-off area in the left lane where utility workers were working.

Police were still trying to piece together the details of the crash Wednesday, Huston said, but the driver also appeared to have struck another vehicle before crashing into a garbage truck on the busy stretch of road. The drivers of both vehicles and the garbage truck remained at the scene after the crash, Huston said.

Two American Water workers were taken to the hospital, where one was pronounced dead and the other is in critical condition, Huston said. Two other employees suffered minor injuries, he said. No one was identified Wednesday.

The four workers were hit while installing a meter pit, a New Jersey American Water spokesman said in a statement. “Our focus is on caring for our employees and their affected families and friends,” the spokesman said.

By Wednesday afternoon, the normally busy stretch of White Horse Pike near a Produce Junction and a McDonald's between Warwick and Evesham roads was closed to traffic while firefighters hosing down the sidewalk behind police tape and removing a white sheet from the sidewalk. Onlookers crowded the nearby parking lot of Colombo Liquors, some crying and hugging each other, while workers in hard hats and neon vests stood across the street.

“It wasn't even like a bang, it was like metal tearing,” said an employee of a neighboring business, who asked to remain anonymous for privacy reasons, describing the sound of the impact that rocked his business. When he looked outside, the employee said, he saw the two utility workers lying on the ground in the middle of the street.

Huston noted that pedestrian accidents are not uncommon on the busy stretch of White Horse Pike, adding that police have increased the number of tickets given to inattentive drivers from the Benjamin Franklin Bridge to the Pinelands to make the stretch safer.

Huston expressed his condolences to the family of the American Water worker who died on the job on Wednesday.

“I feel for the family,” the police chief said. “The family is absolutely devastated… I honestly don't know how they will grieve.”