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Mayada Jafar, 15 -- Hit By Car

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KINNELON -- Two teenage cousins were killed as they strolled along a leafy New Jersey lane at twilight after a driver who had allegedly sucked down half a liter of vodka and took powerful pills ran them down, authorities said yesterday.

Athear Jafar, 16, and her cousin Mayada Jafar, 15, were walking on the shoulder of the road to a movie theater in Kinnelon at about 8 p.m. Thursday when a 2005 Kia driven by Eugene Baum mowed them down, officials said.

"They were just girls," exclaimed Mayada's sister, Ammani, 21, as she visited the scene of the tragic wreck yesterday and saw a makeshift memorial erected for the girls.

"They were walking to the movies," she said, before break- ing down in tears and screaming "Oh, God!"

Authorities said Baum, 44, an unmarried electronics company worker, had been on the road for about 15 minutes, driving from his home in Dover to his mom's house in Kinnelon.

The two girls had just left Mayada's house and were walking on the busy road's wide shoulder toward a Clearview Cinemas theater about a mile away when Baum headed toward them.

Morris County Prosecutor Michael Rubbinaccio said Baum was driving on the shoulder - and when he hit the girls, he sent them flying over a guardrail. They suffered massive trauma and were declared dead at the scene.

The Kinnelon police headquarters stands about 100 yards from the crash site, and cops quickly got to the scene. They found Baum "unstable" and said his "speech was slurred." An officer smelled an "odor of an alcoholic beverage."

In addition to the vodka, Baum allegedly consumed the antidepressant Librium, which is not to be taken before operating a vehicle, Rubbinaccio said.

"There is outrage," said the girl's uncle, Issa Abba. "A 44-year-old went out and got drunk and did what he did. He took the life of two little girls who had not even begun their lives."

Baum was given a ticket and freed after the crash. He turned himself in to court yesterday at about 4:30 p.m.

He was charged with reckless driving, DWI and two felony counts of death by auto. The charges could get him up to 10 years in prison, but authorities said yesterday that the charges may be raised to first-degree aggressive manslaughter.

He was being held in lieu of $100,000 bond.

His attorney said he doubted he drank as much as police said - and also denied the drug allegations.

"He's a very decent guy," he said.

Mayada's best friend, Maria Nylen, said the tragic teen called her on the phone shortly before the crash. She didn't take the call and now regrets it.

"I feel terrible, I could have talked to her before she died," she said. "She was outgoing, friendly."

"I think it's terrible that some guy killed my best friend just because he was drunk and drove."

While her cousin Athear goes to Jefferson HS in her home town of Jefferson Township. Mayada goes to Kinnelon HS.

At the school a sign offered condolences to her family.

"There's a sense of bewilderment," said principal Sharon Torriello. "It's hard on both the kids and adults. We're trying to wrap our arms around each other."



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