Linden, NJ – Hillside Police Department Officer Giovanni Esposito was killed in a violent off-duty collision early Monday morning.
Officer Esposito, 30, and an unnamed companion were driving in an Acura SUV at approximately 2:15 a.m., when the vehicle slammed into the back of a tractor-trailer cab at an intersection, WABC reported.
The Acura rolled several times, and ejected Officer Esposito and the other occupant.
It was unclear who was driving the SUV at the time of the crash.
They were rushed to Newark Hospital, where Officer Esposito was later pronounced dead.
The other person in the vehicle sustained serious injuries, and the driver of the tractor-trailer cab was uninjured.
According to WNBC, the front end of the SUV was “completely shredded” by the impact, and at least one wheel appeared to have been sheared off.
The SUV’s windshield was caved inward.
“The men and women of the Hillside Police Department are deeply saddened to have learned the news of a vehicle crash last night in Linden, N.J. which took the life of one of our own, Officer Giovanni Esposito,” Hillside Police Chief Vincent Ricciardi told WABC in a statement.
He had been with the department for nearly one year, and “graduated at the top of his class from the Essex County Police Academy,” Chief Ricciardi said.
“Officer Esposito loved his job and was a warm and friendly person who was well-liked by all who knew him,” the chief continued. “He prided himself on serving the community of Hillside with diligence and compassion.”
“His death is a profound loss to our department and we will miss him terribly. We wish his family solace and comfort during this extremely difficult time,” Chief Ricciardi said.
The cause of the collision remains under investigation.
“It's a hard day. It's a difficult day and this certainly hits home for everyone," Linden Police Lieutenant Christopher Guenther told WABC. "We're certainly praying for them, their families, and hoping to get them the answers to the questions they have."
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Hillside Police Department Officer Giovanni Esposito, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.