Collision Causes Tragedy in Belleville

A Belleville police officer was killed in the line of duty early Saturday morning when he lost control of his police cruiser after it collided with another vehicle in Nutley. A second officer in the cruiser was seriously injured.
According to Belleville police chief Joseph Rotonda, Officer Kenneth Santucci, 33, of Belleville, the driver of the vehicle was taken to Clara Maass Medical Center where he was pronounced dead a short time later. Officer Santucci was married, with two children ages two and seven; his wife is expecting their third child due in November. Officer Santucci had been a member of the Belleville Police Department since Jan. 2008. Prior to joining Belleville PD, Officer Santucci was a police officer with the Newark Police Department since 2005. The other police officer, Melissa Corrado, 28, of Hopactong, sustained head and rib injuries in the crash. She was taken to University Hospital in Newark and released Sunday. The driver of the other vehicle was described as a 51-year-old female from Bloomfield. She was taken to Mountainside Hospital and released.
According to Essex County Prosecutor Paula Dow, the two officers were responding to a report of a suspicious person in the southwest section of Belleville at around 7:35 a.m. While responding to the call, the cruiser collided with another vehicle, a black Toyota, at the intersection of Hancox Avenue and Union Avenue near the Belleville/Nutley border. Both officers were ejected from the police cruiser after their vehicle lost control and struck a utility pole between two homes on Union Avenue near the intersection of King Street. No charges have been filed against the driver of the other vehicle. She is cooperating with detectives from the Essex County Vehicular Homicide Unit. The investigation remains ongoing.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Tragic. Many auto fatalities are due to being ejected from the vehicle, another excellent reason to buckle up.
    I don’t know if these officers were wearing their restraints or not. It sounds like they weren’t.

  2. MB – I thought the same thing and was speaking to a friend of mine who stated he did not believe that officers were required to wear seat belts – somthing about them being able to get out of their car in a hurry should any need arise.
    Whatever the situation was, it is certainly very tragic.

  3. I wonder if Santucci was awake enough to be driving at that hour.
    Driving ain’t a game or a casual endeavor, no matter how many idiots may think otherwise.
    A sad story. How awful for Santucci’s family.

  4. My deepest condolences for the officers and their families. That is a dangerous intersection where people often peek out, using Hancox to cut from Passaic Ave down to Washington and avoid the lights. I imagine we’ll be seeing a stop light there soon.

  5. crank-
    awake enough? it depends on what time the shift started. I dont think Santucci woke up, got out of bed, and jumped into a cruiser with his partner riding shotgun and started speeding down the road

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