SUMMIT, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Summit, NJ Police Athletic League has launched a fundraiser for the family of a police officer killed on his way to a work-related event Tuesday morning.

Summit Police Officer Matthew Tarentino died in a 3-car crash on the eastbound side of Interstate 78 in Bernards Township around 6:20 a.m. Tuesday.

A grey Toyota Camry was heading westbound on Rt. 78 when it crossed over the grass median and struck Tarentino’s private vehicle which was travelling on the eastbound side, authorities said. A second car then struck the officer’s vehicle. The driver of the first vehicle was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was also pronounced dead.

Tarentino was 29 and is survived by a wife and two children. His wife is pregnant with their third child.

“Our family has been shaken to its core with the loss of the most tremendous man, our brother, Matt,” Tarentino’s family said in a statement. “His character was unparalleled in today’s age. Matt held himself to the highest standard and would not waver in times of adversity. He will always be remembered as a man of incredible strength and honor.”

For more information or to contribute to the fundraiser, click here.

Tarentino was remembered by Summit Mayor Nora Radest as “vivacious and vibrant, very sincere, smart, hard working.”

“He’s touched so many people in this community,” Radest said.

As an instructor in Summit Schools’ DARE Program, Tarentino was set to attend a drug abuse education graduation program for fifth grade students later Tuesday.

“Officer Tarentino was an important part of the Summit community and a well-known face amongst the students and staff in Summit Public School,” Superintendent June Change said in a letter posted to the district’s website.

“Matthew Tarentino epitomized what a law enforcement officer should be: a respected, trusted colleague with unshakeable dedication and enthusiasm for his calling,” Police Chief Robert Weck said in a post to the Summit Police Department’s Facebook page.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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