[Updated 5:15 p.m. Sunday]
A 16-year-old Bloomfield High School soccer player died Saturday night in car crash that left four others injured.
Christina Lembo was seated in the back of a 2007 Honda Civic when it was involved in a car crash with a 2000 Chevrolet Camaro at about 11:10 p.m. Saturday at the intersection of Broughton Avenue and Walter Street in Bloomfield, according to a press release from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. Lembo was transported to University Hospital in Newark, and was pronounced dead a short time later, the release said.
“I heard, ‘Bam!’ like a crunch. You heard glass breaking and people screaming,” said high school student Ashley Bieksha, 20, Sunday afternoon, who heard the accident happen from her home nearby.
Bieksha and her sister, Alyssa, 21, both attended Demarest Elementary School with Lembo, and know her older brother. According to Ashley Bieksha, Lembo was being driven to a sleepover when the Honda Civic she was traveling in was struck as it was turning left from Broughton Avenue onto Walter Street.
“[Christina] was beautiful,” Ashley Bieksha said. “She was an angel. … All of her friends are devastated.”
Lembo played defense for Bloomfield High School’s soccer team and wore No. 3 on her jersey. Late afternoon Sunday, a few of her teammates arrived on scene holding jerseys with the junior’s number taped on.
Bloomfield Schools Superintendent Jason Bing released a statement Sunday afternoon saying the district opened the school for the girls and boys soccer teams and parents to meet with counselors and staff.
“On Monday, BHS will have counselors, coaches and teachers prepared to assist students as they work through their grief, anger and sadness,” Bing said. “They will also be working with the Traumatic Loss Coalition.
“Principal (Christopher) Jennings and staff look to accommodate students needs throughout the day, week, and months to come. The accident is currently under investigation and we are awaiting more details.”
“By all accounts, Christina was a great teammate, friend, sister, daughter and person; she will be missed,” he added.
There were two other people in the Honda Civic and two in the Chevrolet Camaro at the time of the accident. All four were transported to nearby hospitals and treated for non-life threatening injuries.
A memorial with dozens of flowers and lit candles lined the curb on Broughton Avenue, near Walter Street, Sunday, as residents came to pay their respects. A small group of students, some donning Bloomfield High School sweats, stood on the corner across the street crying and holding each other.
Olivia Bell, 15, who played varsity soccer with Lembo and called the teen her best friend, said Lembo was just recovering from a hip injury and was excited to get back on the field. Bell said she last talked to Lembo about three hours before the deadly crash.
“You just felt safe when you were on the field with her,” said Bell
Lembo was a star defender on the field and, in the classroom, was well-liked by her teachers, Bell said. The teen eventually wanted to go to college to become a physical therapist.
Family and friends will hold a candlelight vigil for Lembo Sunday at 8 p.m. on Broughton Avenue, friends said.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Fennelly said in an email. The prosecutor’s office is also waiting for the result of blood tests to determine if alcohol was a factor in the crash.
“I’m trying so hard (to be strong),” said Deanna Laterza, choking back tears. Laterza also played soccer with Lembo and was her best friend since kindergarten. “Her dad just passed away five years ago. It’s just so hard on her family.”
This is a breaking news story. Check back on Patch for more information as it becomes available.