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Police: Army veteran killed by 14-year-old wrong-way driver driving stolen car in Dutchess County

Police: NJ man killed in crash involving 14-year-old in stolen vehicle
Police: NJ man killed in crash involving 14-year-old in stolen vehicle 02:08

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- Family and friends are mourning a New Jersey man who was killed by a driver going the wrong way on Route 9 in northern Dutchess County.

Police say a 14-year-old was driving the stolen vehicle that smashed into the victim.

"As soon as I saw the white van, I didn't even go look because it was that bad," Mark Van De Carr said.

He was just yards from the terrible Tuesday morning crash scene near the southern border of the village of Rhinebeck.

A Middlesex County, New Jersey, man driving a work van was killed when a stolen SUV swerved into his lane and smashed into him. The family of 49-year-old Jonathan Keich said he was an Army and reserve veteran. Friends remembered him online as a hardworking, standup guy.

"An innocent person lost their life, needlessly," Dutchess County Sheriff's Capt. John Watterson said.

Watterson said the SUV driver was just 14.

"The kid obviously has problems. He's 14 years old stealing cars. But this guy, he's just going to work, you know? It's a sad. It's a sad state," Van De Carr said.

Investigators believe the teen stole the vehicle a few hours earlier in North Canaan, Connecticut, about 35 miles east of Rhinebeck.

"We believe that the juvenile was part of a larger group, organized group, that has gone around stealing cars and joyriding. The group is believed to be from Connecticut. They do that in Connecticut and New York as well," Watterson said.

Dutchess investigators want to know if their case is connected to another Tuesday car theft that ended tragically in Waterbury, Connecticut. A teen in a stolen car jumped out, ran into a lake and drowned while trying to flee after a traffic stop.

The 14-year-old in the Dutchess case was not seriously injured in the crash. He was taken into custody and charges are pending.

Many law enforcement agencies have reported an increase in vehicle thefts, and are reminding owners to never leave a vehicle running unattended and to always secure your vehicle and the key fob.

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