ALPHA, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Hundreds of police officers paid tribute on Friday to a fellow officer in New Jersey who was struck and killed by a driver allegedly high on drugs.
The officer’s wife, Amy Wargo, and other family members paid their final respects to Joseph Wargo at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Alpha. Wargo was a 38-year-old officer with the Mt. Arlington police, jovial and well-liked by those who knew him.
“He was just a good friend, good cop, worked with my husband. I met my husband there. Like they said, just a big teddy bear,” family friend Maureen Goode told CBS 2′s John Slattery.
Joseph Wargo, who lived with wife in Lopatcong, had been in corrections and then police work for 20 years.
The officer was killed in a bizarre collision on Interstate 80 early Sunday. A car going in the other direction jumped the median in Roxbury. The driver, 29-year-old Michael Cassella of Howell, allegedly under the influence of a controlled substance, was charged with manslaughter and vehicular homicide.
“My nephew, devastating. Can’t believe it. Can’t believe it happened,” said the officer’s uncle, Steve Wargo.
Bruce Smith coached Wargo in high school football.
“Whatever he did, he put his heart and soul. He just had a motor. That’s the best way to describe Joe,” he said.
A police department of 13 men is now just 12.
“Good guy, lost a good guy, he’ll always be around us,” said Sgt. James Distasio of the Mt. Arlington Police.
Cassella has four prior drug-related convictions. He’s being held on $500,000 bail.
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