Hundreds of law enforcement officers from around the country came to Atlantic City on Monday to pay their final respects to a state trooper killed in a crash.
Police officers from as far away as Michigan were part of a huge contingent that filed past the casket of Trooper Frankie Williams as part of services in Boardwalk Hall. Williams was then laid to rest at Holy Cross Cemetery along Harding Highway in Mays Landing.
The 31-year-old rookie trooper died in a head-on crash along Route 55 in Millville on Dec. 5. He was responding to reports of the car that struck him driving erratically in the moments before the crash. The second car's driver, Dr. Lloyd Rudley, died at the scene.
Williams, of Egg Harbor Township, was assigned to the Port Norris Station. He was a member of the 156th State Police Class which graduated on Jan. 29, 2016. NJSP called him a "bright and promising trooper."
Williams grew up in Lakeland, Florida before moving to New Jersey. Donna Wood, Williams' former neighbor, told NBC10 he was always fearless, even as a boy.
"I know that child that grew up and I knew he was doing something that he was passionate about," Wood said, while fighting back tears.
After Williams moved to South Jersey he earned a degree in criminal justice from Rutgers at Atlantic Cape Community College. He was in the process of getting his Masters degree prior to his death. [[405006266, C]]
"He without a doubt was one of the best students I've ever had," said Williams' former professor Dean Wyks.
About 150 people gathered Thursday night at Leesburg Volunteer Fire Company, 550 Main Street, Leesburg, NJ 08327 for a candlelight vigil.
Williams was often described as a "hero" at the proceedings and many spoke of his kindness.
Trooper Cara Spinosa, who graduated with Williams from the State Police Academy in January, said Williams was a genuine guy and "no matter what, he always had our back."
In August, Williams responded to a parking lot in Pilesgrove Township after a person reported a toy poodle was inside a vehicle with only one window open about an inch. The trooper saw the dog was lying on its side inside a crate and in obvious distress from heat stroke.
After breaking the window with his baton, he gave the dog water, and it was taken to a veterinary hospital in critical condition. The dog eventually became stable, and authorities charged its owner with animal abuse.
Williams got married in September and is survived by his wife, Kimberly Williams.
"We are devastated by his passing, but he can rest assured that we will embrace his family as they will always remain a part of our state police family," said Col. Rick Fuentes, the head of the state police.
The exact cause of the deadly wreck remained under investigation Friday.