Katie is a data reporter for NJ Advance Media (NJ.com / The Star-Ledger), covering all things numbers in New Jersey. She particularly enjoys covering education data, and was a courts & crime reporter in her previous role.

When not covering the news, reading the news, or talking about the news to anyone who will listen, Katie enjoys hanging out with her dog, Ollie, and crafting.

Jersey Shore beaches must be accessible, but some are more within reach than others

Carlos Rojas sat in his wheelchair on a ramp overlooking the crisp white sand and rough blue waves of the Atlantic Ocean. His grandchildren squealed as they climbed on the playground overlooking Belmar beach. Last summer, Rojas would have easily joined them, toting their sand toys, beach chairs and cooler. But the 79-year-old man, who splits his time between Florida and New Jersey, recently lost his leg after complications with COVID-19. He assumed a day on the beach this summer would be perma

Where do N.J. cops make the most? In towns with the least crime

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is part of The Pay Check, an in-depth look at every dollar earned by 24,000 law enforcement officers across New Jersey in 2019. Find the full database here: The Pay Check. Katie Kausch is a reporter who covers crime, courts, and breaking news across New Jersey for NJ.com and The Star-Ledger. Riley Yates is the lead data reporter for NJ.com and The Star-Ledger. He has spent most of his career covering criminal justice. Nick Devlin is a reporter on the data and inv

‘I had to watch my friend die.’ Bus driver gets prison for I-80 crash that killed student, teacher

Madison Vargas spoke clearly and without crying. As the adults around her sobbed and blotted their cheeks with tissues, the 12-year-old wanted to make clear what school bus driver Hudy Muldrow Sr. took from her on May 17, 2018, when her twin sister Miranda Vargas was killed alongside teacher Jennifer Williamson in the horrific school bus crash on Interstate 80. "Mr. Devil, how dare you take my heart away from me without expecting it?” Madison Vargas asked. "Sometimes I wish I was on that bus

My dog ate my COVID vaccine card. That was just the start of my ordeal.

The nurse who handed me my vaccine card after my second COVID-19 vaccination shot offered some pretty sage, and now quite prescient, advice. “Make sure to keep this in a safe place,” she said. ”You’ll probably need this in the future.” I thought putting it in an organizer on my desk at home was sufficient safekeeping. My rambunctious, yet adorable puppy Ollie had other thoughts. Less than a week after my second dose, I found my 10-month-old pandemic puppy, with half of the card in his mouth,

Employment rates for those with disabilities remain too low in N.J., advocates say

Patrice Jetter absolutely loves her job. As a school crossing guard in Hamilton Township, she looks forward to greeting the kids each day, making sure they get to their destination safely and building a rapport with the elementary school children she helps. Jetter is both incredibly typical — a hardworking New Jersey resident who wants to make their community better— and an outlier. As an adult with cerebral palsy that has effects on her cognitively and physically, she among a small number of r

How years of abuse led to N.J. woman’s tragic death and a ‘biggest fear come true’

Two close friends, Yasemin Uyar and Jacqui Pscolka, met up with another woman at a brick-front pizza place on a Highland Park corner six years ago. They came with a warning. The man the other woman had just started dating, Tyler Rios, was dangerous. Uyar knew him well. She had been dating Rios on and off since they met in Highland Park High School four years prior and he had a history of being physically abusive toward her, according to family and friends. Uyar’s stories startled the woman, pr

‘All we could find was a picture of our baby.’ N.J. town decimated by Ida sorts through flooded wreckage yet again.

As Ida raged and flood waters rose Wednesday, Caesar Dommar left his home in the Lost Valley neighborhood of Manville with his wife, Megan, and newborn to seek refuge around 7 p.m. Eventually they were able to return in the middle of the night and get their cat and move some items. Midday Thursday, they received unthinkable news from their neighbor. Their home, which they bought in 2017, had exploded and was on fire. “It doesn’t feel real to be honest,” Megan Dommar said after pointing out the