HO-HO-KUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Hundreds turned out Tuesday to bid an emotional, final farewell to a New Jersey police officer who was killed in the line of duty.
Gov. Chris Christie was among the mourners paying their respects to Waldwick Police Officer Christopher Goodell at St. Luke’s Church in Ho-Ho-Kus.
Officer Goodell is the first Waldwick police officer to die in the line of duty, CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown reported.
“My brother will be on your front line as he was here, guardian angel looking down on all he loved,” Goodell’s sister Nicole said at the service.
Projectors and speakers broadcast the service to mourners spilling onto streets surrounding the church.
“Several years ago, he helped my brother and he took kindness and helped my brother rather than put him in harm’s way and I’ll never forget that,” one mourner told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.
“Words can’t describe how everyone feels, but you can see the look in everyone’s face,” said Franklin Lakes Police Officer Robert Grassi. “Not only the local community, but the law enforcement community, comes together in times like this.”
“Can’t say enough about him — terrific person,” said family friend Steve Wostbrock. “He gave 14 years to the country and now this town.”
Goodell’s casket was carried out of the church and past an oversized replica of his badge that was covered in flowers, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported.
“It could be me, it could be him, it could be anybody. He was just out there doing his job and that’s what hurts,” Sgt. William Duby of the New Milford Police Department said.
The 32-year-old was using a radar gun on the shoulder of the southbound side of Route 17 near Bergen Avenue last Thursday when a tractor-trailer hit his unmarked police car, authorities said.
Goodell was pronounced dead at the scene.
At his wake Monday, Goodell’s casket was driven under a flag through his hometown of Waldwick, where he was born and worked. He was a five-year veteran of the department and a Marine Corps veteran. Goodell was also recently engaged.
“He was a very warm and outgoing person who cared about others and he put himself on the line,” said Anne Voss, the grandmother of Goodell’s fiancee.
“He was here to serve his community and love his community and I’m grateful for that,” mourner Elizabeth O’Neil-Donohue told Brown through tears.
Earlier Monday, the truck driver, 28-year-old Ryon Cumberbatch of Brooklyn, pleaded not guilty to second-degree vehicular homicide.
Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said the crash happened entirely on the shoulder of the road and there is no evidence that Cumberbatch tried to brake before impact.
Cumberbatch’s lawyer, David Glassman, maintains it was an accident, CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang reported.
Although his car was running, Goodell’s emergency lights were not activated and Cumberbatch remained on the scene waiting for help, Jiang reported.
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