2 killed, including Summit police officer, in I-78 crash

Posted: Updated:
BASKING RIDGE -

A police officer with the Summit Police Department and another driver were killed Tuesday morning in a three-vehicle crash on Interstate 78 in Basking Ridge, authorities say.

Summit Mayor Nora Radest identified one of the victims as Officer Matthew Tarentino, who was on his way to work when the crash occurred. He was 29 and on the force for five years.

State police say a vehicle crossed over the median from the westbound side and hit two other vehicles head-on. 

Another victim remains hospitalized and their condition is unknown.

Radest said Tarentino was very involved in the community and had received an award last week from New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino for community policing.

Officer Tarentino was scheduled to be part of a drug-abuse education program for fifth-graders later in the day.

"He was kind to everyone and he always had a smile," said Donna Puzella of Summit.

A purple bunting and a flag at half-staff can be seen at the Summit police station in remembrance of Tarentino.

He is survived by two children and his wife, who is pregnant with their third.

State police said the crash happened on the eastbound side of the interstate. All lanes were closed for several hours after the accident at mile marker 33.

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