UPPER FREEHOLD TWP., N.J. – State Police say a 24-year-old New Jersey state trooper is dead after the troop car he was driving early Saturday morning struck a deer, ran off the side of the road and hit a tree.
The New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association has identified the trooper killed as Anthony Raspa, who was single and lived in Highland Park.
He had been on the job for less than 2 years, assigned to Troop C in Hamilton Township.
State Police spokesman Capt. Stephen Jones said the second trooper who was in the car is recovering at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in Hamilton. Twenty-nine-year-old Trooper Gene Hong suffered lacerations and a neck injury. Hong was released Saturday morning.
The crash happened at 12:48 a.m. State Police said the two troopers were patrolling in a Ford Crown Victoria eastbound on Interstate 195 in Monmouth County when their car struck the deer then ran off the right side of the road. No other vehicles were involved in the crash.
The deceased trooper was taken to CentraState Hospital in Freehold where he was declared dead. He suffered severe head trauma.
At Raspa’s home Saturday afternoon, there was an outpouring of support for the family.
His family released a statement Saturday saying they had lost “a incredible son, brother, grandson, cousin, friend and person.”
“Anthony was a phenomenal young man with a heart of gold and a passion for life. While he is no longer physically with us, we are so grateful for the 24 years of love and loyalty we shared with him. Anthony was passionate about law enforcement and took great pride in being a NJ State Trooper. He will forever be in our minds and in our hearts.
The family is so appreciative of all of the love and support. We ask that you respect our privacy at this time as we continue to grieve,” the statement said.
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.