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Driver charged in death of Waldwick police officer

A veteran police officer in north Jersey has died after a tractor-trailer rear-ended his unmarked police car and the driver charged with second degree Vehicular Homicide,


Waldwick police officer Christopher Goddell
Waldwick police officer Christopher Goddell (@FranklinLakePBA via Twitter)

Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said Waldwick Police Officer Christopher Goodell, 32,  was operating radar to look for speeders, on Route 17 at Begen Avenue when the tractor-trailer driven by Ryon Cumberbatch of Brookyln veered into the shoulder and struck his unmarked Chevrolet Impala parked on the shoulder that did not have its emergency lights blinking.

A preliminary investigation concludes Cumberbatch made no attempt to brake before striking Goodell’s car and drove directly into it without stopping or attempting to stop. Goodell died from blunt force injuries directly related to severe trauma to the head according to Molinelli.

Cumberbach is being held on $25,000 bail and is scheduled for a court appearance on Monday in Bergen County Central Municipal Court.

The impact pushed the cruiser into a retaining wall just before 1:30 a.m. Thursday near a residential neighborhood. NBC 4 New York reports the truck driver remain on the scene and called 911.

Route 17 in Waldwick where a police officer was killed when a tractor trailer rear-ended his unmarked car
Route 17 in Waldwick where a police officer was killed when a tractor trailer rear-ended his unmarked car (Courtesy Tom Kaminski /WCBS Chopper 880)

An out-of-state police sheriff saw the incident and was first on the scene to help according to the Record.

The truck, still with its hazard lights blinking, had come to a stop on a grassy strip between the road shoulder and a raised backyard. Its cab was at a 90-degree angle from the rest of the truck and had smashed into a white picket fence and stone wall. Fencing and rocks were strewn along the highway. Cumberbatch was hauling a trailer half-full with produce, the prosecutor said, and was not injured.

Police are checking homes for possible damage according to ABC 7.

Police Chief Mark Messner said Goodell was a five-year veteran of the department, a Marine Corps veteran and a proactive officer.  At an early morning press conference an emotional Messner said, “He was an outstanding and proactive officer who loved his family, his fiancee, his job and his comrades, and he will be sorely missed” according to NBC 4 New York.

“We extend our deepest sympathy and friendship to his family and his fellow police officers,” said Waldwick mayor Tom Giordano in a statement posted on the Township website.   “Rest in peace Chris, you will never be forgotten for the good deeds you have done for the residents of Waldwick.

Goodell is the second north Jersey police officer to lose his life this week. “Police officers face dangers every single day. We saw what happened in Jersey City,” Molinelli said, recalling “We saw what happened to a Bergen County police officer a couple of months ago. Danger faces these police officers at any moment.”


The Associated Press contributed to this report

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