A van that was involved in a fatal accident early Monday morning on Interstate 84 in Danbury sits in a garage at the State Police Troop A barracks in Southbury.
Danbury, CT - Two Flatbush residents heading back to Yeshiva Ateres Shmuel in Waterbury, Connecticut died last night after the van they were in rolled over on Interstate 84 between exits two and three in Danbury, Connecticut at 12:30 AM.
Sixteen-year-old Eli Shonbron and Dani King, 15, both of Brooklyn, N.Y., died in the crash between Exits 2 and 3, state police said.
The van was traveling east on I-84 when it crashed about 12:15 a.m., according to a state police press release, tying up overnight traffic for nearly four hours.
According to state police, the other passengers in the van were: Jay Tepler, 16; Pinchus Feldman, 16; Moshe Sperling, 18; Mayer Kulefsky, 17; Avraham Schmulevitz, 21; Abraham Jungiers, 16; Israel Braun, 20; and Aryah Litzman, 17.
All are from Brooklyn, except for Litzman, who is from Atlanta.
Officials say the 1998 Ford Club Wagon was coming from New York with 11 people aboard. The vehicle is registered to Mark Sperling, of Brooklyn, whose son, Elimelech, was driving when it went off the right side of the highway and slid down an embankment, striking several trees along the way, before rolling to a stop.
The blog Voz Iz Neias first reported that the van was carrying a group of students from the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, to Yeshiva Ateres Shmuel, a Jewish boarding school in Waterbury.
School officials confirmed the young men, including Shonbron and King, all attended the school, though not all were in high school.
The driver, Elimelech Sperling, two days shy of his 22 birthday when the accident occurred, was a youth counselor enrolled in the school's college program, according to Rabbi Schalom Siegfried.
Siegfried, vice president of the school's board of directors, said the group had been in New York for a weekend sabbath, visiting friends and relatives.
"It was a vacation Sabbath. They'd been in New York because many of them come from New York," Siegfried said.
Grief counselors were made available to students and staff Monday, officials said.
"I would like the community to know, that although in shock and mourning, we do (appreciate) the outpouring of support and sympathy," he said.
Several of the survivors had to be extricated from the overturned vehicle. They were later taken to Danbury Hospital, where they were treated for non-life threatening injuries, the release said.
A hospital spokeswoman refused Monday to comment on their conditions.
Shonbron and King were both pronounced dead at the scene, police said. It was unclear if they were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash or where they were sitting in the vehicle.
No further details about the cause of the accident, including how fast the van was traveling, were available Monday. The incident remains under investigation by state police.
"It would be premature for us to speculate about anything that occurred," said state police spokesman Lt. Paul Vance. "The investigation is going to take some time. There's at least nine people that need to be interviewed."
Funerals for Schonbrun and King were held Monday in Brooklyn.
It was the first double fatality accident on I-84 in the Greater Danbury area in more than four years.
Two Massachusetts women returning home from Florida lost their lives when a westbound pickup truck jumped the median barrier on the highway and collided head on with their car near the Danbury-Bethel line in October 2007. A third person riding with the two women was seriously injured.
Monday's crash was also the second serious crash in the area in the span of several hours.
A 21-year-old man was killed when his 2006 Toyota Scion smashed into a tree on Interstate 95 South, near the Exit 18 off-ramp in Westport, state police said.
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