A Bergen County town came together Monday to mourn a police officer killed in a crash last week as the tractor-trailer driver accused of smashing his 18-wheeler into the officer's car pleaded not guilty to vehicular homicide.
Several hundred residents of Waldwick, along with police officers from several surrounding communities, turned out Monday for a procession for Officer Christopher Goodell. A wake was held for him at St. Luke's Catholic Church.
"We all know each other, it's a small town," said Waldwick resident Ben Hymson. "And when stuff happens, we show up for each other."
Goodell served five years with the Waldwick police force and eight years with the Marines, including a tour in Iraq. He'd just gotten engaged last month to Jillian Voss. Her grandmother, Anne Voss, tearfully said her would-be future son-in-law "was a wonderful contribution to our family, and we will miss him."
Others lining the streets held American flags and signs reading "thank you," some wiping tears from their eyes as the hearse passed by.
About 12 miles south in Hackensack, the driver of the 18-wheeler that authorities say hit Goodell's parked cruiser pleaded not guilty to vehicular homicide during his initial court appearance.
Authorities say 28-year-old Ryon Cumberbatch of Brooklyn was driving on Route 17 in Waldwick early Thursday when he slammed into Goodell, who was on the side of the road checking for speeders.
The impact pushed Goodell through a retaining wall and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Prosecutors say there was no evidence that Cumberbatch, 28, tried to brake before the crash and that it appears he drove directly into the police car, which did not have its lights on, without attempting to stop.
Cumberbatch said nothing as he left court with his attorney Monday.
Goodell will be buried Tuesday. Gov. Chris Christie has ordered flags at state office buildings flown at half-staff on that day.
He grew up in Waldwick and is the first borough police officer to die in the line of duty. Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno was expected to attend a wake for Goodell Monday. He will be laid to rest Tuesday.