LAKEWOOD, N.J. - A police officer was killed early yesterday when his patrol car crashed into a tree after swerving to avoid a deer, authorities said.

Officer William Preslar, 36, was killed instantly in the 4 a.m. crash on New Egypt Road, also known as Route 528, Lt. Joseph Isnardi said. Preslar, who had been with the department for 61/2 years, was responding as a backup officer to a call for assistance from another officer. It was not immediately clear what type of assistance the other officer had requested, Isnardi said.

"A deer walked out in front of his patrol car, and he struck a tree," Isnardi said.

The officer, who was married and had two daughters, ages 5 and 4, will be buried Friday following a funeral at St. Mary of the Lake Catholic Church. He was a member of the department's special weapons team, which worked high-risk situations as well as narcotics cases, police said. - AP