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NJ community mourns officer killed in wrong-way crash

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LINDEN, New Jersey (PIX11) -- At an afternoon news conference inside of City Hall, not far from where the purple bunting hung at the entrance, Mayor Derek Armstead described this Friday as, "A sad day for the Linden family. It's a sad day for the Linden Police Department."

The faces from department personnel said it all.  This was a day that Linden town officials and those that serve to protect the New Jersey community will never forget, "We are a family and as you can see up here this is our family. So when we lose somebody it affects all of us and this has definitely affected us," said Linden Police Captain James Sarnicki regarding a deadly wrong-way crash on Staten Island.

Frank Viggiano was killed in the crash. (Photo: Linden PD)

Frank Viggiano was killed in the crash. (Photo: Linden PD)

The devastating collision occurred shortly before 5 a.m. on the southbound West Shore Expressway near Arthur Kill Road. The crash killed two, Joe Rodriguez, a 28-year-old civilian, and Frank Viggiano a member of the Linden Police Department.

"My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Frank Viggiano. Officer Viggiano was a 28-year-old,  five year veteran of the Linden police department. Well liked by everyone," said Chief James Schulhafer.

Additionally, the other two men who are fighting for their lives are also members of the Linden Police Department.

All were off duty and returning back to Linden after a night out.  Reportedly at Curves, a gentleman's club located in south Staten Island.

Linden police did not want to discuss the investigation, but they did confirm that 27-year-old Pedro Abad, a department veteran for six years, was behind the wheel of the Honda civic.

Jose Perez is a neighbor who lives across the street from Abad. He shared with PIX11 his thoughts on the cop he has known since he was a boy, "I know Pedro since he was 10-years-old, since he was a young kid growing up and I went to his academy and where he graduated and everything and to find out like this is unbelievable."

Linden officials said that Abad along with Patrick Kudlac are both listed in critical condition.