Hard to say goodbye for friends of North Bergen crash victims

It’s rocked the communities to the core and destroyed two families after Eric Patterson, a 23-year-old Jersey City man was arrested late Saturday night and charged with killing and critically injuring three local teens.

According to Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari, Patterson was clocked allegedly going 74 mph north on Kennedy Boulevard in a silver 2004 Infiniti G35. When the car neared 26 Street, it swerved to avoid cars stopped at a red light and crossed over the southbound lanes, jumped the curb, hitting the teens. Then it crashed against the wall of 2625 Kennedy Blvd., ultimately wedged between a tree and wall of the building.

Bryan Rodriguez, a 17-year-old Union City High School freshman and Noel Herrera, a 17-year-old Cliffside Park student died at the scene.  The third victim, Manny Sanchez, 16, of Union City is recovering at Jersey City Medical Center from multiple fractures of his legs and other injuries.  His condition is now stable.

Patterson faces multiple charges, including two counts of death by auto in the second degree, one count of assault by auto non-fatal in the fourth degree, speeding, reckless driving and driving on a suspended license (since 2012).

Toxicology tests are pending and the investigation is ongoing.

“It should have never happened to none of them— Noel, Manny, nor Bryan,” say freshman Tiara Collazo, a friend of the three teens, but closest to Noel. “They were all good kids.”

Noel’s passion for skateboarding and Bryan’s fancy footwork inspired others to follow their dreams.

“I’m gonna miss (Bryan) him ‘cause I would always be after school with him dancing,” says freshman David Aquino. “I would like the way he dances so he would help me sometimes and he would like push me on to be better.”

Moments ago Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez announced the charges against suspect, Eric Patterson, who mowed down the teens and the town is in serious mourning after this horrible, horrible tragedy.

“You have young people whose lives taken from them in such a horrific manner and another one injured injured very, very badly and there’s absolutely no need for it, there’s no excuse for it, there’s no reason for it to have happened,” Mayor Nicholas Sacco.

The two best friends brought something special into people’s lives.

“There were always so happy, like if you were sad or anything like that — they always wanted to make you laugh, always had to see a smile, always,” Natalie Torres.  “All you hear is the laughter, fill a room.”

“They were always around when you needed them.  They never put anybody down,” Collazo says.  “They were always the life of like everything.”

Even with patrols, officials say preventing accidents still comes down to personal responsibility.

“We’re talking about a 25-mile an hour roadway and quite frankly, people cannot operate their vehicles in such a reckless manner and expect anything but tragic results,” says North Bergen Police Chief,

Bob Dowd, adding that this was by far the worst accident scene he’s come upon in his entire career and he worked the fatal accident unit for years.

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