Neither seat belts nor airbags were enough to prevent three deaths in Tuesday's three-car collision in Freehold Township, say investigators probing the circumstances.

A head-on collision between a car and SUV on Kosloski Road at Business Route 33 at 3:47 PM propelled the SUV onto a third car. Pronounced dead at the scene were Nicholas J. Dever, 19, of Freehold Borough; Noelle DeLuccio, 20, of Howell Township; and Thomas J. Koller, 50, of Freehold Township.

A fourth, not yet identified, remains in "extremely critical" condition at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, according to Monmouth County investigators.

Dever lost control of his 2009 Volkswagen Jetta on Kozloski Road, crossing the center line into the path of Koller's 2006 Honda Pilot, authorities said. Noelle DeLuccio was a passenger in Dever's car.

Both vehicles rotated counterclockwise on impact, causing the SUV to become partly airborne and landing on a 1994 Toyota driven by the 25-year-old Freehold Borough man.

"Seatbelts and airbags are essential to protecting everyone in a vehicle, but it's not a guarantee that you will not be harmed," said Monmouth County First Assistant Prosecutor Marc C. LeMieux.

Still in question are the speeds of each vehicle, and whether mobile devices or distracted or impaired driving contributed to the crash. Kozloski Road has limited shoulder space in the area of the crash, reducing the amount of room available to steer clear.

LeMieux notes that traffic volume was building as rush hour approached, and therefore he's asking anyone who saw the crash to reach Detective Eric Kerecman of the Prosecutor's Office at 732-522-8885, or Freehold Police Officer Joseph Winowski, 732-462-7908.