August 17, 2017
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Fundraiser Launched for Family of Summit Police Officer Killed in I-78 crash

Posted on June 1, 2017 by in Hometown, New Jersey, News, Spotlight

Matthew Tarentino

SOMERVILLE – The communities of Summit and Somerville are grieving the loss of borough resident Matthew Tarentino, a Summit police officer, who was killed on his way to work early Tuesday morning on Route 78,

By 4 p.m. Wednesday, more than $140,000 had been donated by more than 1,100 people for Tarentino’s wife, Vickie, and their two children. Vickie Tarentino, who serves as director of marketing at Immaculata High School, is pregnant with the couple’s third child.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Monday at Immaculate Conception Church, followed by internment at Resurrection Cemetery in Piscataway. Visiting hours will be 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday at the church. Arrangements are by Cusick Funeral Home.

The fund to support the family, www.youcaring.com/victoriatarentino-835682, was started by the Summit Police Athletic League, where Tarentino was a community police officer and served as the department’s D.A.R.E. officer. He had been scheduled to participate in a graduation ceremony for the program Tuesday for Summit’s fifth-graders.

Summit Police Officer Matthew Tarantino, far right, attended training for DARE officers last week at the Somerville Elks in Bridgewater. (Photo by Mike Deak)

To honor the officer’s memory, all fifth-graders in Summit’s five elementary schools wore their D.A.R.E. T-shirts to class on Wednesday.

The Tarentino family has been touched by the outpouring of community support.

“Thank you all for your outpouring of love and prayers,” the family wrote on the memorial fund webpage. “We appreciate it more than you know.”

“Our family has been shaken to its core with the loss of the most tremendous man, our brother, Matt,” the family continued. “His character was unparalleled in today’s age. Matt held himself to the highest standard and would not waver in times of adversity. He will always be remembered as a man of incredible strength and honor.

“For his family, we will remember his gentleness and devotion. The man doing puzzles on the floor or playing hide and seek with his children. The man who just always seemed to have the right answers. The bounce in his step; the flutter of his laugh; his jokes, both attempted and successful; his smile will never be forgotten. Above all, his devotion to God is what guided his path.”

The praise for Tarentino as a person and a police officer continued to be offered from people whose lives he touched.

“Our girls loved Office Tarentino. He was always a friendly face at school and in the community,” Gemma Davis wrote. “Summit will not be the same place without him “

“I remember Matt and his brother as little boys running around the playground,” Jennifer Colline wrote. “That he grew up to be the upstanding and awe-inspiring son/brother/husband/father/friend and officer he did doesn’t surprise me. He was truly one of a kind.”

Summit’s local cable channel, HomeTowne TV, produced a tribute to Tarentino.

Tarentino was driving in the eastbound lanes of I-78 just west of Liberty Corner Road (Exit 33) when a westbound car crossed over the median and struck him at 6:20 a.m. Tuesday. Tarentino was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the westbound car was also killed. State Police have not released the identity of that driver pending notification of next of kin. That driver was taken to Morristown Medical Center, where he died.

Tarentino’s Toyota Camry then struck another eastbound car driven by Larry Staley, 54, of Easton, Pennsylvania. Staley was taken to Morristown Medical Center with nonlife-threatening injuries.

State Police are continuing the investigation.

This article by Mike Deak is from myCentralJersey.com.