Monday, October 11, 2004

More than 100 friends and family plan to attend funeral services this week for a New Jersey fire captain’s wife, daughter and nephew who were killed in a car accident on Interstate 66 in Fairfax County over the weekend.

Maureen O’Callahan, 41, her daughter Tara, 20, and her nephew, John Oldigs, 23, were killed about 2:45 a.m. Saturday when a 2001 Dodge Ram pickup crashed into the back of the family’s 1994 Honda Accord that was standing on the shoulder on westbound I-66 near the Nutley Street exit.

Mrs. O’Callahan and her husband, Timothy, 42, were switching drivers when the crash occurred. The family was traveling to Culpeper, Va., to attend an annual family reunion.

The pickup driver, Jonathan O’Neal, 24, of Delaplane, Va., has been charged with driving while intoxicated. Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. will decide whether Mr. O’Neal, a D.C. firefighter recruit, should face a vehicular-manslaughter charge.

Mr. O’Callahan, who watched the crash occur, was not injured. A captain at the Jersey City fire department, he had just stepped out of the Honda to take over the steering wheel from his wife, who had grown tired of driving.

Mr. O’Neal was treated at Inova Fairfax Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. He has been training since August as a firefighter recruit in the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.

A viewing will be held tomorrow at Layton’s Funeral Home in Forked River, N.J., from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Funeral services will be held Thursday at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Barnegat, N.J., at 11 a.m.

The family reunion, called “Thanksgiving in October,” was to be held at the home of Mrs. O’Callahan’s sister, Colleen Burkett, and her husband, Air Force Lt. Col. Alan Burkett, both of Culpeper. Mrs. O’Callahan had 16 brothers and sisters. Her parents, Mary and Michael J. Connelly, also live in Culpeper.

Maureen is a favorite family name. The O’Callahans’ surviving daughter, 22, is also named Maureen and lives in Lynchburg, Va. Their 16-year-old son is named Caigan.

Tara, who celebrated her 20th birthday five days before the crash, was a sophomore softball player at Rampo College in Mahwah, N.J. She played basketball and softball at Southern Regional High School in Stafford, N.J., and was a recipient of the Marcy Lally Award as the senior basketball player with the most character.

Cathy O’Callahan, one of Mr. O’Callahan’s sisters, told the Asbury Park Press, a newspaper in New Jersey, that the three victims were “just Catholic, fun-loving Irish who enjoyed life.” Of her brother, Miss O’Callahan, 46, said: “He’s not doing too well and we’re just letting him sleep.”

Mr. Oldigs, a native of Delaware, lived with an uncle in Jersey City, N.J., and was expected to graduate next May from Montclair University. His parents, Eileen and John Oldigs, are retired Air Force sergeants.

Mrs. O’Callahan worked as a professional hairdresser in her brother’s beauty salon in Long Branch, N.J.

The O’Callahans met at St. Peter’s College in Jersey City where they were students. About 16 years ago, the family moved to Barnegat, a middle-class community on the Atlantic seashore.

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