UPPER FREEHOLD TWP., N.J. (AP) - A New Jersey state trooper was killed and another was injured when their cruiser struck a deer on an interstate highway, ran off the side of the road and hit a tree.
State police officials say 24-year-old Anthony Raspa was killed in the crash, which occurred at 12:48 a.m. Saturday on I-195 in Upper Freehold Township.
The injured trooper, 29-year-old Gene Hong, was treated at a hospital for lacerations and a neck injury.
State Police Capt. Stephen Jones says the two troopers were patrolling eastbound on a stretch of the highway in Monmouth County when their Ford Crown Victoria struck the deer. No other vehicles were involved in the crash.
Raspa was a graduate of the 152nd state police academy class, which graduated in October 2013. He lived in Middlesex County and was based at the Hamilton Township station in Mercer County.
In a statement posted Saturday afternoon on the state police's Facebook page, Raspa's family said he was "a phenomenal young man with a heart of gold and a passion for life." They also said he was passionate about working in law enforcement and took "great pride" in being a trooper.
Authorities say the last trooper to die while on duty was James Hoopes, who died in 2012 after suffering a heart attack during a training session.
The last traffic-related death of a trooper was Marc Castellano, who was struck by a car in June 2010 while outside of his vehicle on I-195. Castellano and other officers were investigating a woman's claim - later found to be false - that a man had held her at gunpoint and forced her to speed away from a traffic stop.