A 33-year-old man, his two young daughters, and his niece died in a car accident Saturday night while they were driving home from a toddler’s birthday party in Gloucester County.
Police released few details about the crash, except to confirm the deaths of four people whose car hit a utility pole along the 1000 block of Gateway Boulevard in Westville just after 9 p.m. Police did not identify the victims.
But in an outpouring of grief Sunday on social media, friends and family members identified the dead as George Ritter, of West Deptford, his daughters — Alivia and Elsie, ages 9 and 5 — and their cousin, Kenzie Mammoccio, 8.
By Sunday afternoon, a makeshift memorial had sprung up at the crash site as community members dropped off flowers and teddy bears. A cross leaning against the pole Ritter’s car hit bore each of the victims’ names.
“My heart is broken, and I’m at a loss for words,” wrote family friend Nicole Mallon, of Atco, in a Facebook post seeking donations to help pay for funeral expenses. “George, I know I told you this a million times but you’re an amazing father and gave your girls the world.”
Kenzie’s father, Brian Mammoccio Jr., told 6abc that he hadn’t even begun to fathom the loss.
“I never got to say goodbye,” Brian Mammoccio said. “Cherish every moment you have with your children because you never know when that moment can be taken away. I only got eight years.”
Friends online described Ritter as a single father and said he was driving the girls home from a birthday party they attended earlier in the day at the Westville Power Boat Association. The accident occurred about halfway between there and Ritter’s home.
The association did not respond to requests for comment but said he was a member in a post on its Facebook. A GoFundMe page it launched to raise funeral expenses had raised more than $13,000 by Sunday evening.
“They have touched the lives of so many and it’s our turn to show our appreciation for George and the girls one last time,” it read.
Westville Police Chief William Whinna said that the cause of the accident remained under investigation.