The Carlson family. Jonathan is far right behind mother Allison.
Grieving family and friends recall teen crash victim WEST MILFORD – “He was a great kid. He had a big heart and loved his family,” Jean Tenz, aunt to the late 17-year-old Jonathan Carlson, killed in a March 13 car crash on the Greenwood Lake Turnpike, said. Carlson, of West Milford, was a passenger in a car driven by Victor Weinpel, 19, of Wanaue, that went off the road in Ringwood at 3:15 p.m. March 13, hitting a guard rail and careening back across the road and into the path of an oncoming van driven by Ringwood resident Paul Barker, 64. Both teens died in the crash. Weinpel was a 2017 graduate of Lakeland Regional High School and was a member of the track team there. Carlson only attended the school for his freshman year and then left when his family moved to West Milford during the last year. He opted to leave school in order to help his mother, Allison Carlson, care for his younger two siblings, Tenz said. “He chose to. He wanted to help his brothers because his mother had to work and there was no one to watch them,” she said. “He helped out with them.” Jonathan was the third of five children and had an older brother and sister as well as two elementary school age younger brothers. Lakeland Schools Superintendent Hugh Beattie said that grief counselors were available at the school for students grieving the loss of the pair. West Milford also provided counselors with the two youngest members of the family attending that district, Superintendent Dr. Alex Anemone said. A group of family and friends spent the weekend after the crash painting a memorial to the teens on a rock in Ringwood, including hand prints from Carlson’s siblings, Tenz said. “These kids all worked very hard together to coordinate with each other and come together as a group to honor Jon and Victor and create this tribute to their memory and honor them and how they have touched their lives,” friend Krissy Liguori said. “I’m so proud of how hard they worked together. It was a very emotional day for everyone but they really pulled it together to honor their friends. It was really so touching to see them all working together and supporting each other.” The family was able to raise almost $16,000 to help with the funeral expenses through a GoFundMe page, Tenz said. “I am really appreciative of that,” she said. She said the communities have reached out to the family members in a big way during this rough time, providing meals and support to Allison and the other children. Tenz said that Jonathan loved hunting and fishing, motorcycles, playing video games and listening to music. She also said that he was very attached to his family and would always be the first out of the house to greet visiting relatives. He was also very close with his father, Andrew Hewitt, Tenz said. Visitation for Jonathan is scheduled for from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday March 23, at the D’Agostino Funeral Home 881 Ringwood Avenue in Haskell with a 3:30 p.m. service at the funeral home.