Tractor-Trailer Runs Off Road, Kills New Jersey Police Officer: Prosecutors

A 32-year-old officer operating radar on a New Jersey street was killed early Thursday when a tractor-trailer ran off the road and rear-ended his unmarked police cruiser, officials say.

Waldwick police officer Christopher Goodell was sitting in an unmarked Chevrolet on the shoulder of Route 17 at Bergen Avenue at about 1:20 a.m. when his car was hit by the 18-wheel tractor-trailer, which was headed south on Route 17 and had run off the road, Bergen County prosecutors say.

The impact sent the vehicles careening through a retaining wall and near a house. Goodell's car sustained heavy damage, and the tractor-trailer had some damage as well. Investigators were checking to see if the house was impacted.

Goodell, a five-year veteran with the force, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Prosecutors say the truck driver, 28-year-old Ryon Cumberbatch, who was not injured, called 911 after the crash. He was later arrested on charges of second-degree vehicular homicide. 

Prosecutors say there was no evidence that Cumberbatch 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 stopping or attempting to stop. 

Waldwick Police Chief Mark Messner said that Goodell was a Waldwick High School graduate who had served in the Marines for eight years and had recently gotten engaged.

Messner said Goodell was a dedicated member of the force who worked at the intersection often to make sure drivers went at safe speeds.

"He was an outstanding and proactive officer who loved his family, his fiancee, his job and his comrades, and he will be sorely missed," the chief said, choking back tears.

Cumberbatch was jailed on $25,000 bail and is next scheduled to appear in court July 21. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney. 

--Tracie Strahan contributed to this report

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