SUMMIT, NJ - Summit Police Department Officer Matthew Tarentino, a resident of Somerville, has died as a result of injuries sustained in a three-vehicle car crash that occurred at 6:20 a.m. on Tuesday on Interstate 78 in Bernards Township. Another person involved in the crash also died as a result of injuries, according to reports.
Tarentino, 29, was traveling to work in Summit when a westbound car crossed over the Interstate 78 median and struck two eastbound vehicles.
Both drivers, whose identities are unknown, were transported to Morristown Medical Center, according to reports. The hospital confirmed the death of the second driver several hours later. The extent of the third driver’s injuries is unknown.
The accident occurred Tuesday morning when a car headed westbound on Route 78 in Bernards crossed over the grass median and struck Tarentino’s vehicle, who was headed east, and a second car, reports said.
The accident shut down Route 78 eastbound causing extensive traffic delays during rush hour. State Police are investigating the accident.
"With great sadness, the City of Summit Police Department announces the death of police Officer Matthew Tarentino at 6:20 a.m.," Summit police said in a statement.
He is survived by a wife and two children.
Tarentino was the Summit Police Department’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer, and was a familiar fixture in Summit’s schools, where he conducted DARE programs.
He was on his way to speak with a group of 5th-graders about the dangers of drug abuse when the accident occurred.