As funeral arrangements were finalized Tuesday for a 10-year-old boy fatally struck by a police cruiser in South Jersey two days earlier, authorities offered little more about the circumstances surrounding the accident.
The Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office, which is handling the investigation, did not answer questions as to whether the car had its police lights or sirens activated, or at what speed the cruiser was traveling when it struck Matthew McCloskey on Delsea Drive.
The car hit the fifth grader as he was crossing the road (Route 47) near Elmer Street, en route to a sleepover with two friends. Matthew was pronounced dead at the scene at 7:04 p.m., officials said.
The Prosecutor's Office, in a statement, said Franklin Patrolman Nicholas Locilento was driving north to assist with an "unruly juvenile in a township home." Delsea Drive near Elmer Street has a 50 m.p.h. speed limit.
Matthew's companions, two brothers, were not injured. The boys' parents were following the children in a car, relatives of their family said. The boys had been looking at neighborhood Christmas lights and Matthew had gathered his belongings from his home on Elmer. The boys asked to walk back to the brothers' house on Delsea - a short trip they had often made, a relative of the boys' parents said.
Matthew, who grew up in Williamstown, had lived in the neighborhood with his three older siblings and their mother, Michelle Harding, for a little more than a year.
The Prosecutor's Office in its statement said it would give "the family time to mourn their loss, and at their convenience, meet with them to share the findings of the investigation."
"While we certainly appreciate the public's interest in this tragic event, it would be premature in the course of the investigation and unfair to the McCloskey and Harding families and the police officer involved to provide partial details before all the facts are known," the statement said.
Locilento, 23, has been placed on paid administrative leave by the department.
Matthew attended Caroline L. Reutter School, just south of the accident location. He had played football and baseball, and enjoyed skateboarding and bike riding, according to an obituary.
"There are no words to describe the sorrow and loss that our family and friends feel," said a family statement provided by a family friend Tuesday. "Matthew was the sweetest, most loving boy. Everyone he met couldn't help but fall in love with his innocence and kindness, which will be missed."
Matthew, who had said he wanted to be a police officer, attended a township junior police academy last year, the statement said.
The boy is survived by his mother; father, Andrew Sr.; and siblings Alexis, Andrew Jr., and Madison, as well as other family members.
A candlelight vigil for Matthew will be at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Franklin Township Sports Complex on Pennsylvania Avenue.
A viewing will begin at 9:30 a.m. Friday at Our Lady of Peace Parish, 32 Carroll Ave., Williamstown, with a Funeral Mass to follow at 12:30 p.m.
A memorial fund on YouCaring.com to pay for service expenses, with a goal of $25,000, had raised more than $10,000 by Tuesday night. Donations can also be made to the "Matthew McCloskey Fund" through TD Bank, or in his name through the Bell-Hennessy Funeral Home, 420 S. Main St., Williamstown, N.J. 08094.
Grief counselors will be available for students and families at the Reutter School on Wednesday from 9 to 11:30 a.m., school officials said, and again when school resumes Monday.