N.J. town saying goodbye to young couple tragically killed on cross country trip

Gisela Steep

In the two weeks since a young Jersey Shore couple, Cole Young and Marsada “Sadi” Connors, died in a car crash, a pall of sadness has permeated the Point Pleasant area, where they came of age and started dating in high school. But through the tragedy, a phrase has emerged, […]

In the two weeks since a young Jersey Shore couple, Cole Young and Marsada “Sadi” Connors, died in a car crash, a pall of sadness has permeated the Point Pleasant area, where they came of age and started dating in high school.

But through the tragedy, a phrase has emerged, “Live Like Cole and Sadi” or “Live Like Sadi and Cole.” It’s how mourners’ have been concluding their social media posts and adorns stickers being sold by a local teen.

It’s fitting, mourners say, because Cole, just 19, and Sadi, just 20, packed a lot of living into their young lives before dying on a barren stretch of Interstate 70 in Illinois when a tractor trailer careened into oncoming traffic on the morning of Aug. 20, and slammed their minivan into a ditch.

They were on their way home from a road trip to the western states, where they posted pictures on their Instagram accounts of their adventures. Often, Cole was holding the leash of Maezy, their yellow labrador.

Maezy also died in the wreck.

“Sadi and Cole are truly one-of-a-kind individuals, especially for 19 & 20 year olds. They had drive, determination, and motivation to go after what they wanted and make it happen,” Sadi’s cousin, Laci Van Demark, said in a message.

“They truly lived in the present, taking in every moment…they never let the ‘little’ things make them worry and/or keep them awake. Sadi & Cole truly lived every moment of their lives and with no regrets, which is why we say we should all ‘live like Sadi & Cole!’” she wrote.

The town has organized a memorial vigil this Sunday, Sept. 5, at Riverfront Park in Point Pleasant Borough at 7:30 p.m. (It was postponed from Sept. 1 due to weather.)

In an emotional Facebook post, Van Demark’s sister, Shelbi Slattery, even gave a list on how to live like Cole and Sadi, like, “Keep it simple,” and “Don’t take yourself too seriously. Be weird. Make others laugh, even if you look like a fool,” and “Always stop by or call people when you’re thinking about them, no matter the hour of day.” The list goes on.

“With all the pain and divide in the world right now, I refuse to categorize this as another negative notch in this year,” Slattery said of their deaths. “And I beg anyone reading this not to either. Please use this as a HUGE wake up call to live your life more fully. Put your phones down. Get off social media. Stop arguing with one another and go live your life with more purpose, passion and love. Live like Sadi & Cole.”

Cole and Sadi started dating at Point Pleasant Borough High School a few years ago and were instant soulmates, loved ones say. They had worked together, excelled at sports and had plans for a life together. Both were currently living in neighboring Brick.

Sadi had lived for several years in Allentown, in western Monmouth County, when she was younger before moving back to Point Pleasant for high school, her obituary says. She graduated in 2019 and had played on the varsity basketball and lacrosse teams. She attended Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Bay Head with her grandmother.

She worked at Rosie’s Pizza in Point Pleasant Beach in high school – Cole also worked there – as well as Lenny’s Market in Silverton, Toms River. She was currently attending Ocean County College and working at Seashore Pediatric Therapy Center in Toms River, and had plans to attend Rutgers and attain an occupational therapy degree.

Called to serve during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sadi volunteered with the Point Pleasant Borough First Aid Squad last year.

“Sadi believed in doing ‘it’ now. Whatever ‘it’ may be. She loved to travel. They were on the trip of a lifetime across the USA, living their Van Life experience to the fullest,” her family wrote in her obituary. “Sadi can most accurately be described as sunshine in human form and all who knew her still feel her loving energy.”

Cole grew up in Belmar before moving to Point Pleasant. He starred on the football, basketball and baseball teams, playing often with his twin brother, Sam. He graduated in 2020.

He was working working for Brennan Construction Co. of Brick doing masonry work when he died.

“Cole was born a fearless adventurer who loved the outdoors. He loved boating, fishing, surfing, hiking, snowboarding, camping and above all the ocean,” his family wrote in his obituary.

Cole and Sadi have already had a joint funeral service, and their friends gathered on Point Pleasant Beach this past Monday for a candlelight vigil and set afloat lighted balloons and lanterns after drawing a giant heart in the sand.

Friend Joey Picolli started a GoFundMe for the couple’s families to defray funeral costs, as well as a scholarship in their names. It took off in a matter of days, sailing past the original goal of $30,000 and currently is approaching $90,000.

“If you have never met them or don’t know them well they were the most kind hearted individuals a person could surround themselves with,” Picolli wrote in the fundraiser. “They were always the type of people to push others to be the best they can at whatever it was they were doing.”

Friends and loved ones of Cole Young and Sadi Connors hold a vigil on Point Pleasant Beach on Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. (Photo by Chuck Hilling.)

Anyone interested in purchasing a “Live Like Cole & Sadi” sticker can find information here.

Our journalism needs your support. Please subscribe today to NJ.com.

Kevin Shea may be reached at [email protected].

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A night to celebrate the live’s of Sadi, Cole and Mazey... What a beautiful gathering and tribute for such beautiful souls. May you rest in peace and rest assure never be forgotten...❤❤❤

Posted by Chuck Hilling on Tuesday, August 31, 2021

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