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N.J. state trooper killed, another injured after patrol car strikes deer

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UPPER FREEHOLD, N.J. (PIX11) -- Anthony Raspa, a New Jersey State trooper for less than 2 years, died early this morning in a car crash on Route 195 in Upper Freehold.

A State Police spokesman said that 24-year-old Raspa and 29-year-old Trooper Gene Hong were on patrol when they struck a deer, just before 1 a.m. Their car ran off the road into some trees. Hong was treated for cuts and a neck injury at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in Hamilton. Raspa was rushed to CentraState Medical Center in Freehold, where he died.

Raspa graduated from the New Jersey State Police Academy in 2013. He was stationed Hamilton.

“My friend called me up and told me about it. I couldn’t stop crying,” said Margaret Kidell, a long-time neighbor and friend of the Raspa family. The Raspa’s have owned a jewelry store in their Highland Park neighborhood for decades. Kidell says their children grew up together, “To lose a son like that. He was such a very nice person. Everybody had good things to say about him.”

Local police cordoned off the block where the Raspa family lives. They asked the media to respect the family’s privacy during this time of grief, but the family did release a statement this afternoon:

The Raspa family did release this statement this afternoon:

"Today our family lost an 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."

Flags outside Troop C’s Hamilton Headquarters flew at half-staff today. Raspa is the first trooper to die in the line of duty since 2012. The last was 40-year-old Sgt. James Hoopes, who suffered a fatal heart attack during training.

The New Jersey State Police Facebook page says the entire agency is in mourning today, along with the Raspa family.