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Off-Duty Summit Cop, Married Father Of Two, Killed In Multi-Vehicle Accident In Somerset County

BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Authorities say a police officer on his way to a work related event was killed in a three-car crash in New Jersey Tuesday morning.

State police said the accident occurred on the eastbound side of Interstate 78 in Bernards Township around 6:20 a.m. Tuesday.

Summit Police said that Officer Matthew Tarentino was killed in the crash. Investigators say a grey Toyota Camry was heading westbound on Rt. 78 when it crossed over the grass median and struck Tarentino's private vehicle which was travelling on the eastbound side. As second car then struck the officer's vehicle. The driver of the first vehicle was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

"He was vivacious, and vibrant, very sincere, smart, hard working," Mayor Nora Radest told CBS2's Meg Baker. "He's touched so many people in this community."

As an instructor in Summit Schools' DARE Program, Tarentino was set to attend a drug abuse education graduation program for fifth grade students later Tuesday.

"Officer Tarentino was an important part of the Summit community and a well-known face amongst the students and staff in Summit Public School," Superintendent June Change said in a letter posted to the district's website.

"Matthew Tarentino epitomized what a law enforcement officer should be: a respected, trusted colleague with unshakeable dedication and enthusiasm for his calling," Police Chief Robert Weck said in a post to the Summit Police Department's Facebook page.

The roadway was closed for several hours Tuesday morning as authorities investigated the fatal crash.

The 29-year-old is survived by a wife and two children. His wife is pregnant with their third child.

Information on memorial services for Officer Tarentino will be posted on the city's website once available.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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