WALDWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A truck driver has been charged with vehicular homicide after his tractor-trailer barreled into an unmarked police car in Waldwick early Thursday, killing the officer inside, authorities said.
The deadly crash happened just before 1:30 a.m. on Route 17 in Waldwick.
Officer Christopher Goodell, 32, was operating radar to check for speeders when the truck veered onto the shoulder of the road and struck the parked police car at the Bergen Avenue intersection, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said.
The truck pushed the car into a retaining wall. Goodell was pronounced dead at the scene.
The truck driver, 28-year-old Ryon Cumberbatch, of Brooklyn, was not injured and called 911, Molinelli said. It was not known why the truck went onto the shoulder. The trailer was half-full and carrying produce, the prosecutor said.
Cumberbatch was charged with second-degree vehicular homicide later Thursday, Molinelli announced. The driver’s bail was set at $25,000.
Molinelli said the crash happened entirely on the shoulder of the road, and there is no evidence that Cumberbatch tried to brake before impact.
Police Chief Mark Messner could not hold back his tears, stunned that one of his own was killed in the line of duty.
“We’re in a grieving process right now,” he told CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell. “It’s a pretty tight-knit group of people, so we’ll get through it.”
Messner said Goodell was a five-year veteran of the department and a Marine Corps veteran.
“He was an outstanding and proactive officer who loved his family, his fiancee, his job and his comrades,” Messner said. “He will be sorely missed.”
As CBS 2’s Andrea Grymes reported, the town where Goodell was raised and worked was in mourning Thursday.
“He just always made sure that everybody was happy,” Caroline Mitchell said of Goodell, who grew up with her older sister.
“I was the little sister of one of his friends, but he just made sure that no one was bothering me.”
Many who knew him said they’re heartbroken he could survive overseas deployments, only to be killed in his hometown.
At the local high school, marquees honored the fallen officer, and black and purple bunting was hung outside police headquarters.
Earlier in the day, Waldwick resident Paul Shaugnessy and his daughter left flowers.
“I know him from town, and it’s very said,” Shaugnessy said.
“He did Torch Run, he did all that stuff. He did all the right things. A stand-up guy,” Ray Jiminez, Goodell’s former football coach, told WCBS 880’s Sean Adams.
Cumberbatch will be in court on Monday. Officer Goodell’s funeral is set for Tuesday.
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