True life terror: Hamilton, NJ mom hit while trick-or-treating
HAMILTON (Mercer) — A mom is grateful to three police officers who took her sons trick-or-treating after she was struck by a hit-and-run driver.
Tabitha Vassey was with her sons Liam, 7, who was dressed as the grim reaper, and Greyson, 3, in his Chase from Paw Patrol costume, Monday night on West Park Avenue near Lafayette Avenue. They looked both ways as they decided to cross the street and determined it was safe and crossed.
When they reached the middle of the road Vassey noticed a vehicle coming at them.
"I saw it out of the side of my eye. I saw how close she was getting. I knew I wasn't gonna make it. So I yelled at my seven-year-old son to run as fast as you can," Vassey told New Jersey 101.5. "And then my little one that I was pushing in his carriage, I just blindly pushed him as hard and fast as I could to make him get to the other side. And then boom, I was down. My head met concrete."
Vassey said the driver, a woman, got out and was concerned about taking her own children out trick-or-treating. A male passenger got out and chastised Vassey for being in the middle of the road.
"And then all the witnesses around were yelling at them, 'you needed to slow down. They were in the middle of the road first, you guys came out of nowhere.' The passenger was yelling at them, 'I was only going five miles an hour. We weren't even going that fast,'" Vassey said.
The vehicle, which Vassey said looked like a Jeep, then left before police arrived.
Bystanders, cops to the rescue
Vassey said that as she lie in the road, one woman comforted Liam and Greyson, who were crying and hysterical while awaiting the arrival of first responders.
"I'm looking for her, but whoever she is I'm very grateful and appreciate them. I have a feeling she's a mom because my kids gravitated toward her and made my kids feel safe and secure," Vassey said. "I'm just thankful."
First responders took Vassey to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton where she was treated for her injuries.
Hamilton police officers Alex Zuzzio, Sean Dorney and Sgt. Ed Lugo decided to walk the two children around the neighborhood to go trick-or-treating until a vehicle with car seats was able to come to the scene and take them to their grandmother. Liam is still excited about having been taken out by the officers and wants to meet them again.
"I just want to give a shout-out to those men," Vassey said. "They took my kids trick-or-treating and they made my kids feel safe, as well as all the witnesses. They took care of my kids in a moment that I couldn't."
Vassey said that her boys were looking forward to going out on Halloween for the first time in two years because of COVID restrictions. But that's changed as Liam is traumatized and having a difficult time at school. Greyson has gotten "cranky" and has had difficulty sleeping
"This was the big night. They were gonna get out and finally do something kids should be doing. And well, that was taken from them now with a traumatic event," Vassey said. "It's just hard to see my kids are suffering and I don't know how to help them because I can't help myself right now."
A GoFundMe page has been created to help Vassey with medical expenses as she is unable to work at her job at a warehouse in Levittown, Pennsylvania while she recovers. She is also anticipating possible legal action.
Hamilton police asked anyone with information about the incident to call them at 609-581-4133.