Wesley Chapel fashion model dies in New Jersey accident

7/30/06


TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A young woman who died in a fiery auto crash on the New Jersey Turnpike last weekend has been identified as a promising fashion model from Florida.

New Jersey State Police confirmed today that 19-year-old Heather Bratton was the passenger who died at the scene of a three-car collision at about 5 a-m on July 22nd. A statement on the Web site of her booking agency, Women Management, says she was en route to a flight at Newark International Airport.

Bratton was photographed by noted fashion photographer Steven Meisel for a recent Italian Vogue cover. Several industry observers had theorized in recent months that the dark-eyed brunette was poised for greater success and her prominent cheekbones drew comparisons to supermodel Kate Moss.

Bratton was from Wesley Chapel, Florida.

A phone call to her family's home Sunday morning was not immediately returned. Her stepfather, Tim Kerrigan, told The New York Post for Sunday's editions that Bratton had flown to New York for a July 20 magazine photo shoot.

Stormy weather prevented her return flight the following night. She was en route to the airport in a car-service limo Saturday morning when the vehicle broke down in the center lane of the turnpike, and was rear-ended by a sport utility vehicle.

State Police last week said the Crown Victoria, in which Bratton was a passenger, was struck by a Toyota RAV4 at southbound Exit 14. It plowed into a Toyota Sienna stopped in front of it that authorities believe had stopped to render aid. The RAV4 and the sedan both caught on fire. Bratton was trapped inside and pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the Crown Victoria, 30-year-old Selim Koskar, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was hospitalized with multiple burns on his entire body. He was still in intensive care Sunday at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston.

Ramon Sanchez, 23, of Jersey City, suffered broken bones while Bronx, N.Y.-resident Yoa Murry, 44, the Sienna's drive, suffered burns to his leg.

Bratton was born in Virginia and raised near Tampa, Fla., the Post reported. This summer she appeared on catwalks in Milan and Paris, modeling for Prada, Gucci, Burberry and Chanel.

She was to be buried in South Carolina, the Post reported.