Officer Dead, Another Injured In NJ Crash | MassCops

Officer Dead, Another Injured In NJ Crash

Discussion in 'Line of Duty Death News' started by Inspector, Aug 12, 2008.

  1. Inspector

    Inspector Subscribing Member

    NORTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. - A city hall official says a North Brunswick police officer has been killed in a motor vehicle accident that left another officer injured.

    Janice Larkin, an assistant to North Brunswick Mayor Francis Womack III, says the second officer is still being treated at a hospital. She did not know the severity of his injuries.

    The accident happened before noon Tuesday on Route 130 South, just south of the Route 1 intersection.

    Officials have not released the names of the officers, whether they were on duty or any other information regarding the incident.
     
  2. Inspector

    Inspector Subscribing Member

    A veteran North Brunswick police officer was killed and a second officer was seriously injured today when the black convertible they were riding in veered off Route 130 southbound and struck a utility pole in the township while the men were on duty, authorities said.
    Lt. Christopher Zerby, 41, of Robbinsville, Mercer County, was pronounced dead after being rushed to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.
    Zerby, who grew up in North Brunswick, had been a township police officer for more than 16 years, serving most recently as the town's lead traffic safety officer.
    "Chris was a great police officer, an outstanding officer," North Brunswick Lt. Roger Reinson said during an afternoon press conference at town hall.
    Lt. Keith Buckley, 40, of Jackson, was being treated at Saint Peter's University Hospital in New Brunswick for injuries he sustained in the crash. Buckley, an 18-year veteran of the police department, was in stable condition, according to a Saint Peter's spokesperson.
    [​IMG]Lt. Keith Buckley
    It is unclear if Buckley or Zerby was driving during the 11:06 a.m. crash, but both men were on duty at the time. Reinson said he believed the sports car, which suffered extensive damage in the accident, was a Dodge Viper, but he did not know who owned the car. Buckley and Zerby were close friends, Reinson said.
    "The entire department is in shock over the loss of a dedicated officer," said Deputy Chief Joseph Battaglia.
    Zerby, who grew up in North Brunswick, was married with two young sons, Tyler and Trevor. North Brunswick Mayor Francis "Mac" Womack went to Robert Wood hospital to comfort Zerby's family as they learned the news.
    "This is especially tragic for the township," Womack said. "Lt. Zerby was raised here, he went to North Brunswick High School. Even if he hadn't been on the police force, you knew him around the town. This is a great loss for the township."
    Womack described Zerby as "a soft-spoken man. Anyone -- child, adult, senior -- you could feel close to him."
    North Brunswick employees were sent home early today and counseling will be made available Wednesday, Womack said.
    "Everybody is all shaken up," Womack said. "We're letting the township employees leave early because Chris and Keith were very well liked."
    The cause of the accident is being investigated by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office, though details were not immediately available. The accident occurred about a mile from the North Brunswick Police Department headquarters.
    Jess Crouch, of North Brunswick, said she drove past the accident moments after the car struck the utility pole and before police arrived. She said the convertible top was down and the car appeared to have turned 180 degrees.
    "I saw the guy in the passenger seat unconscious," Crouch said. "It looked really nasty. It had to have spun around and hit the pole. The car was smoking. I started crying, I started shaking."
    Zerby grew up in North Brunswick and his parents still reside in the township, but were vacationing in Florida today when the accident occurred, Womack said. The accident scene is less than a mile from the neighborhood where Zerby grew up and still visits frequently to see his parents, Donald and Sara Zerby.
    Word of his death was met with shock from longtime neighbors of the Zerby family, who had lived off Route 130 on Sherman Road for decades.
    "He wanted to be a police officer all his life," said Laurie Currier, a neighbor of the Zerbys. "He's just a wonderful guy. He was just such a good person. He's been a model policeman."
    Zerby worked as an officer for the Middlesex County Parks before taking a job with the North Brunswick police in 1993, neighbors said.
    "He was just a model human being," said Laurie Currier's daughter Sandra. "He put others before himself. He showed that when he was a police officer."
    Carolyn Kashian, another neighbor, said Zerby was constantly at his parents' home, helping them around the house.
    "As a kid, he would help me carry in my groceries," Kashian said, adding that his generosity didn't stop after he moved from the neighborhood. "He would always be at the house helping out, doing yard work. He would mow his parents' lawn. He was such a kind person."
    Peter Sisco, who grew up with Zerby, said he was close to his parents and Zerby even delivered newspapers with his father when he was a young man.
    "When his parents go to Florida, he washes their car, checks the oil," Sisco said. "It snows, he's down here shoveling the snow. You couldn't ask for anything more from a son."

    [​IMG]Lt. Christopher Zerby
     
  3. kwflatbed

    kwflatbed MassCops Angel Staff Member

    Devoted N.J. cop honored, mourned



    To young son's salute, officer is bid farewell


    By Sharon Adarlo
    The Star-Ledger

    NEWARK, N.J. — Six-year-old Tyler Zerby stood outside Our Lady of Peace Church in North Brunswick yesterday, watching as white-gloved police officers slowly approached with the casket of his father.
    Inside the church, mourners crowded the pews and softly wept as they waited to say goodbye to Lt. Christopher Zerby. Outside, hundreds of police officers stood at attention in crisp dress uniforms, saluting the passing coffin of their fallen colleague.
    And as the flag-draped casket neared the church door, Tyler raised his small hand and gave a salute of his own.
    "He belongs to God now," the Rev. John Polyak, pastor of the church, said during the funeral Mass and tribute to the officer who served in North Brunswick for more than 16 years.
    Zerby, 41, of Robbinsville, Mercer County, was killed Tuesday when the rented sports car a fellow officer was driving veered off Route 130 in the township and crashed into a utility pole, authorities said.
    Lt. Keith Buckley, 40, of Jackson, Zerby's close friend, was driving the 2006 Dodge Viper convertible. Buckley, an 18-year veteran who heads the department's patrol division, was listed in stable condition after the crash.
    Zerby, who was in the passenger seat, died of head and chest injuries. The accident remains under investigation, authorities said.
    For almost a year, Zerby had been head of the department's traffic safety division. He worked as an officer for the Middlesex County park system before taking a job with the North Brunswick police in 1993. He leaves behind his wife, Christine, and another son, Trevor, who was not in attendance yesterday.
    Police officers from Middlesex, Essex and Ocean counties and beyond came to pay their respects yesterday to their fallen comrade. Motorcycles and a bagpipe and drum band heralded the arrival of Zerby's casket. A seven-man honor guard from the North Brunswick Police Department lined the path to the church on Route 130 near the crash site.
    During the solemn church ceremony, family members listened to eulogies that described Zerby as a man who was devoted to his two families - his own and the North Brunswick Police Department.
    Township Officer Tom Vingara said Zerby was a good boss and a man he could count on "to watch your back." Zerby also liked to take his time, Vingara said, laughing
    He took his time mowing his front lawn and washing his car, and then he did it all over, but this time at his parents' North Brunswick house, Vingara said.
    "He was a good man," Vingara said. "If God wanted someone who could make him laugh, he picked the right person."
    Renee McCaffrey, Christine Zerby's sister, reminisced about how the Zerby home was bursting with happy children, toys and a large backyard with a swing set and jungle gym.
    "He was a good father and he adored his family and two boys," McCaffrey said. "He was the rock of the family."
    McCaffrey said she also remembered the time she had to move into his house when she hit a rough patch in her life. She drew laughter from the solemn group when she declared she didn't know why he wanted to deal with a pain-in-the-rear sister-in-law.
    When the Mass came to a close, the funeral procession made its way to the Franklin Memorial Park in North Brunswick, where Zerby was laid to rest in a mausoleum.
    During the short ceremony, the drum and bagpipe band played a mournful song as Zerby's fellow officers in North Brunswick, some crying, gave his casket a salute. In the brilliant blue sky overhead, a State Police helicopter flew. Then the honor guard fired off three rounds as a bugler played taps.
    "Give him a place with your angels and saints," the Rev. Polyak implored the heavens.
    Police officers handed the flag that had draped her husband's coffin to a tearful Christine Zerby.
    Little Tyler was given his father's police hat.

    [​IMG]Wire Service
     

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