Off-duty police officer killed in Linden crash with tractor-trailer

LINDEN, New Jersey — Hillside Police Officer Giovanni Esposito, 30, was killed while off-duty in an overnight car accident that happened in Linden, say officials.

Esposito was in a white Acura SUV just after 2 a.m. when it struck the back of a tractor-trailer that was stopped at a red light on the northbound side.

"The SUV overturned into the southbound lanes of Route 1 and at that point both passengers were ejected," said Linden Police Lt. Chris Guenther.

Linden Police are investigating the cause of the accident with assistance from the Union County Prosecutor's Office.

It's unclear who was driving.

But the other person in the SUV, who is not a police officer, is listed in serious condition at University Hospital in Newark.

Esposito became a police officer last year. He graduated from the Essex County Police Academy in November, according to the Chief of Hillside's Police Department.

“Officer Esposito loved his job and was a warm and friendly person who was well-liked by all who knew him," said Hillside Police Chief Vincent Ricciardi. "He prided himself on serving the community of Hillside with dignity and compassion. His death is a profound loss."

"He was so happy," said Esposito's neighbor, who described him as the kind of person that would check on an injured or elderly neighbor. "There was something about him that was very adorable. Like you just want to grab him and hug him."

She said everyone was proud of him when he graduated from the police academy last year.

The driver of the tractor-trailer was unharmed and is cooperating with the police investigation.