SOMERVILLE, NJ - The mayor of Summit sent a hand-written letter to Somerville Mayor Brian Gallagher thanking the borough, its police force and residents for helping her town work its way through the emotional roller coaster that accompanied the unexpected death of Summit police officer Matthew Tarentino, who grew up and lived in Somerville.
Tarentino, 29, was killed May 30 in a three-car accident on Route 78 in Bernards Township.
Almost immediately, the Somerville Police Department went to work designing plans for road closures, detours and parking in anticipation of the mourners that would come to pay their respects.
Immaculate Conception RC Church on Mountain Avenue hosted a memorial service Sunday, June 4 and a funeral mass June 5, followed by a procession of police officers, families and friends to Resurrection Cemetery in Piscataway for graveside services.
Thousands of people were in Somerville both days to pay their respects.
The entire Summit Police Force was in attendance; several acted as pall bearers and honor guard.
The letter from Mayor Nora G. Radest reads:
“Dear Brian, I want to thank you for the terrific job your city did in accommodating the thousands of people who attended Detective Tarentino’s wake and funeral.
“Everyone from Summit felt welcomed and were put at ease by your officers and townspeople.
“I know Matt’s death was a tremendous loss to your community, so your generous assistance to everyone was greatly appreciated. Thank you again.”
Tarentino was promoted to Detective posthumously by the Summit Police Department following the accident.
Tarentino is survived by his widow, Victoria, and two sons, Robbie, 3 and Ray, 2. The couple is expecting their third child in August.
The Summit PAL created an online fund for donations to the Tarentino family following the accident; as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, donations totaled $580,799.
A Message of Thanks was posted to the website on June 12 by Vickie Tarentino’s siblings. It reads:
"We, the siblings of Detective Matthew and Vickie Tarentino, can never thank the Summit PAL enough for the tremendous gesture of starting this fund in Matt's memory for our sweet sister and their young children.
During these most devastating days, the kind words, memories, prayers, and most certainly the generous donations are humbling and comforting, and will make their navigating the road ahead just a little easier. We are so deeply appreciative.
On behalf of our sister, we extend her most sincere awe and gratitude for everything that has been done to honor Matt and comfort her family during this time."
The online link is youcaring.com/victoriatarentino.