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NJ Officer Killed in Tractor-Trailer Collision

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Jasmine Reynolds3 years ago

A second New Jersey police officer death this week occurred early Thursday morning on Route 17. The officer, Christopher Goodell, was watching for speeding vehicles when a tractor-trailer rear-ended his parked car on the highway shoulder.

Details of the Fatal Accident

According to ABC News, the tractor-trailer did not attempt to slow down as it went on the shoulder, hit the unmarked police car, and pushed the car into a retaining wall. The incident occurred around 1:30 am – Goodell was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Bergen County Prosecutor, John Molinelli.

The truck came to a stop on the strip of grass between the highway should and a raised backyard. The truck’s hazard lights were blinking and the cab of the truck was at a 90 degree angle from the trailer.

The cab had been smashed into a white picket fence and stone wall; fencing and rocks were scattered across the highway. The trailer was half full of produce. The driver of the tractor-trailer, Ryon Cumberbatch, survived the crash uninjured and called 911.

A nearby resident thought he heard three loud thunderclaps when the incident occurred because of the force of the collision. The resident stated that he would often see the unmarked police car waiting to catch speeders since the area is known for speeding: “At night it's crazy dangerous out here for speeding. I can hear the sound of motorcycle engines coming by all the time.”

Truck Driver Charged with Vehicular Homocide

County Prosecutor Molinelli stated that there was no highway evidence that suggested Cumberbatch tried to stop his vehicle; Cumberbatch was charged with vehicular homicide and is scheduled to appear in court on Monday, July 21st.

Cumberbatch, from New York, was held on $25,000 bail and could not be reached for any comments regarding the incident. The cause of the incident is unknown, since investigators do not know why the 18-wheeler went onto the shoulder of the highway.

The death of Officer Goodell happened just days after the New Jersey police officer Melvin Santiago was ambushed outside of a drugstore and killed. Officer Santiago was only 23-years-old and just beginning his career as a police officer.

County Prosecuter Molinelli stated, “We saw what happened in Jersey City. We saw what happened to a Bergen County police officer a couple of months ago. Danger faces these police officers at any moment.” 

About the Fallen Officer

“He always wanted to give back to the community, and that’s what he did over the last five year.” – Waldwick High School principal, Kevin Carroll as published by ABC News

32 year-old Goodell grew up in Waldwick County, an upscale suburb about 25 miles northwest of New York. Other Waldwick residents remember Goodell as an upbeat person with a sunny disposition who loved his town. One local stated, “He was an incredibly nice person, no bravado to him… Just a nice, easygoing guy. It's a damn shame, it really is.”

Goodell was also a five-year veteran of the police force and a Marine Corps veteran. Kevin Carroll, the Waldwick High School principal, stated that Goodell regularly took part in the school's drunken-driving simulation class and gave talks to the student groups when asked.

Police Chief Mark Messner spoke very highly of Goodell, stating that he was an outstanding person and officer. Messner also stated, “He loved his country. He loved his town. He loved his police department. He leaves behind his family and a young fiancée”.


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