Looking for traffic accident details
May 23, 2008 4:36 PM   Subscribe

Is there a way to find out details about a particular traffic accident and death that occurred in New Jersey on May 11? The only additional info I have is the name of the deceased.

I found out that someone I used to know has passed away due to a traffic accident of some sort. I had fun hanging out with him back in high school, and I'd like to attend the funeral or any remembrance events that might be taking place. Unfortunately I wasn't in touch with him and I don't have a way of contacting the family. I thought of trying to find any published info about the accident which might also contain further info. I didn't find much thru Google. Is there a news/government/community site or instituation that can help with such inquiries? Should I call the police - if so, which one, as I don't know the city where it happened? Thanks.
posted by shortfuse to Law & Government (11 answers total)
If it was in northern NJ, the Star Ledger/NJ.com might be helpful.
posted by R. Mutt at 4:53 PM on May 23, 2008

*apparently the site covers southern NJ too. I would enter the name in the site search.
posted by R. Mutt at 4:55 PM on May 23, 2008

The obits in the local (to his area) paper.
posted by loiseau at 4:56 PM on May 23, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks. NJ.com isn't returning anything with his name. I did find:


And I've now realized I've asked a slightly wrong question. He passed away on 5/11, but I've no idea if the accident happened on the same day. I had just assumed - without basis.
posted by shortfuse at 5:01 PM on May 23, 2008

NJ.com can't be the only newspaper? What city did he live in? Can you use online 411 services to find out?
posted by loiseau at 5:10 PM on May 23, 2008

Response by poster: NJ.com seems to aggregate a bunch of papers.

I don't know which city he was at, only that he was in NJ at the time. I'll check out the 411 services. Thanks.
posted by shortfuse at 5:13 PM on May 23, 2008

Nj.com isn't a newspaper. It is the website/parent company (?) for a whole set of local papers.
posted by R. Mutt at 5:14 PM on May 23, 2008

if you know the city where the funeral or other remembrance event might take place, you could try calling any funeral home in the city - they are often able to tell you where different services are to take place
posted by jengineer at 5:33 PM on May 23, 2008

If you don't know where the funeral or memorial service will or did occur, but you do know what town the accident was in, you can call the police department and ask for a police report. (Freedom of Information, but you don't usually have to go that far with them. Just as for their public and/or media relations officer, who will be happy to help you get the info you need.) The local police, especially if it was a smaller suburban town, are usually happy to tell you little things like, "His family lives in Morristown town." And then you can check to see which funeral homes are in Morristown, or wherever.

Sorry to hear about your friend's death.
posted by brina at 8:06 PM on May 23, 2008

If you want to attend the funeral, looking for details about the traffic accident ... is an odd way to go about it.

The very first place to check is legacy.com. They aggregate obituaries from newspapers and funeral homes across the country. There are other obituary sites, but these are primarily oriented toward genealogy and update infrequently.

The second place to check is Google News. This would be your best bet at finding anything published as a story. (May 11 is too recent to be in Google News Archive, by the way.)

Beyond that I would just walk back the cat. You heard about his death from someone, so ask them who they got the news from. Telling them you want to attend a service or offer a memorial to the family is a perfectly valid social reason for asking, even if you have to go through a couple of strangers. Again, you are looking for information on his funeral, gravesite, memorial charity fund, or similar; you're not trying to get gruesome details of the accident. But in a roundabout way you may get those details, if that's what you're really after.
posted by dhartung at 10:37 PM on May 23, 2008

Response by poster: dhartung - This was just one of several ways that I was trying to get more info. I had sent out email queries, and I was having to wait to call people overseas at a non-crazy hour for them. Searching obits didn't return anything + I guessed that his parents might not use the obits page anyway for cultural reasons. Then I thought that perhaps an accident report on the news or in a police blotter might tell me what city it was in or what hospital he was taken to, and I could try to follow the trail.

I found someone who knew him - the wife of a brother of an old high school friend - on Facebook, and was able to get more info from her. I missed the funeral, and will be sending condolences through mail.

Thanks everyone.
posted by shortfuse at 6:57 AM on May 24, 2008

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