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Trooper killed by car on Rte. 195

Marc K. Castellano, 29, was investigating an abandoned car when he was struck.

A New Jersey state trooper was killed Sunday when he was hit by a vehicle on Route 195 in Howell Township, Monmouth County.

Trooper Marc K. Castellano, 29, was investigating an abandoned car on the Exit 31 westbound ramp around 10 a.m. when he was struck, Capt. Gerald Lewis said.

Police identified the driver of the abandoned vehicle as Diana Hoffman, 30, of Blackwood, whom they found hiding in woods near the road. Charges against her were pending, Lewis said, but it was unclear why.

The Star-Ledger in Newark reported that the driver of the car that hit the trooper remained at the scene and had not been charged.

After Hoffman told officers that a man had been with her in the car, dozens of local and state police, including K-9 and helicopter units, combed the accident scene, backing up traffic on 195 for miles.

By late afternoon, the search was suspended after police began questioning the validity of Hoffman's claim about the man, Lewis said.

The Associated Press reported that four law enforcement officials were taken to a hospital for treatment related to heat exhaustion during the search.

Castellano, of Howell, was a five-year veteran of the force and a member of the Troop C Tactical Patrol Unit. He was married and had a 4-year-old daughter and year-old son.

Gov. Christie called for prayers for Castellano at an event early Sunday afternoon before visiting Castellano's family at Jersey Shore Medical Center.

The family could not be reached for comment.

"The loss of Trooper Castellano is a difficult blow to absorb," Col. Joseph R. Fuentes, superintendent of the state police, said. "[He] was the embodiment of the finest ideals of the New Jersey State Police."

Castellano was the first New Jersey trooper to die in the line of duty since 2004, when Trooper Bertram Zimmerman, 32, was killed in a car accident while responding to a Cape May robbery.