New Jersey Cop Killed in Tractor-Trailer Crash Mourned at Funeral

Christopher Goodell's funeral service combined police and military honors

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    Hundreds of mourners turned out Tuesday to say goodbye to Waldwick police officer Christopher Goodell. Jen Maxfield reports. (Published Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014)

    Family, friends and hundreds of police officers paid their respects Tuesday to a New Jersey officer killed last week when a tractor-trailer smashed into the back of his patrol car. 

    Gov. Chris Christie was among mourners at St. Luke's Church in Ho-Ho-Kus Tuesday for Waldwick Officer Christopher Goodell's funeral.

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    More than 1,000 police officers, family, friends and strangers from all over the state lined the streets and gathered outside the church to honor Goodell. Many stood in the sun for more than an hour to watch the mass on a big-screen TV outside. 

    Goodell was sitting in his unmarked patrol car and checking for speeders on Route 17 in Waldwick early Thursday when he was rear-ended by the tractor-trailer. The impact pushed Goodell's car through a retaining wall, and the five-year police force veteran died at the scene.

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    Goodell also served eight years with the Marines, including a tour in Iraq, and is the Waldwick Police Department's first line-of-duty death. His funeral service combined police and military honors. 

    Among the speakers was Goodell's sister, Nicole Priestner, who choked back tears during her address.

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    "Christopher, you were my little brother, but there wasn't anything little about you," she said during her brief speech.

    Mourners watched in tears as Goodell's flag-draped coffin left the church for the cemetery. A 21-gun salute and a police helicopter flyover completed the burial. 

    "(Goodell) was a great guy, a good dude," said Jim Holt, a sergeant with the Utica, New York police department who served in the Marines with the fallen officer.

    "He gave so much to his country and to his town," said Waldwick resident Colleen McCrudden. "He must have been a wonderful man." 

    It was the second funeral in less than a week for a police officer who was killed in the line of duty in New Jersey.

    At a wake and procession on Monday, several hundred residents paid respects, with some waving American flags and holding signs that said "thank you." 

    "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." 

    Christie has ordered flags at state offices to be flown at half-staff Tuesday in Goodell's honor.

    The tractor-trailer driver, 28-year-old Ryon Cumberbatch, has pleaded not guilty to vehicular manslaughter. He didn't speak at a court appearance on Monday.

    Prosecutors say there was no evidence that Cumberbatch, of Brooklyn, 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. 

    -- Jen Maxfield contributed to this report. 

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