Newark high school cheerleader critically injured in hit-and-run after celebrating win with teammates

Police say the victim was crossing the street after getting off the school bus when a car came around the bus and hit her. The bus driver said the lights were on and the stop sign was out.

Lanette Espy and Tony Caputo

Feb 6, 2024, 10:27 AM

Updated 131 days ago

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A Newark Arts High School cheerleader remains in critical condition Tuesday morning after she was struck by a hit-and-run driver.
The vehicle hit Chiara Jones, 18, on Sunday night. Police are using video cameras in the area to learn more about the unknown driver who fled the scene. Police sources told News 12 New Jersey that they may be looking for a dark-colored sedan.
Authorities say the hit-and-run happened after Jones and her classmates were being dropped off at the school around 10:15 p.m. The JAGS cheerleader team just celebrated a first-place win at their cheer competition.
When they returned and the bus stopped in front of the high school, Jones started crossing the street in front of the bus. That’s when a car came around the bus and hit her.
According to police, the bus driver said the lights on the bus were on and the stop sign was out. But the driver who hit Jones did not stop and just drove off. All of this happened in front of her teammates, sources say.
Jones was unconscious and was rushed to University Hospital in critical condition. One student told News 12 this is a difficult and upsetting situation.
"Everybody is friends with her. She's part of the cheer team, she's an excellent student. I guess everybody, you know, crossing their fingers and hoping everything goes well," the student said.
Another student said, "It’s not a surprise that this happened and it’s really devastating that it happened to one of my fellow Jaguars, but it was kind of inevitable because we don’t have any real safety. We don’t have a traffic light. We don’t have a stop sign here."
The school released a statement to News 12:
"Arts High School and the entire Newark Public Schools District send love and prayers to our cheerleader who was struck and seriously injured by a hit-and-run driver Sunday evening and we wish her a speedy recovery."
The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the crash. Anyone with information should call 1-877-TIPS-4EC or 1-877-847-7432.
The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the crash. Anyone with information should call 1-877-TIPS-4EC or 1-877-847-7432.


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