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Grand Jury Clears Trucker In Rt. 17 Crash Death Of Waldwick Police Officer

Ryon Cumberbatch
Ryon Cumberbatch Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia (CLIFFVIEW PILOT photo)
Waldwick Police Officer Christopher Goodell
Waldwick Police Officer Christopher Goodell Photo Credit: COURTESY: Waldwick PD

WALDWICK, N.J. -- A grand jury in Hackensack on Tuesday refused to bring vehicular manslaughter charges against a long-haul trucker whose rig slammed into a Waldwick police officer’s car, killing him, on Route 17 in July 2014.

The grand jurors' decision not to indict Ryon Cumberbatch on the charges in the death of Officer Christopher Goodell was "a disappointing outcome," Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said.

Molinelli thanked the grand jurors, who he said "serve a critical function in our judicial process.

He also expressed "deepest sympathies to the Goodell family, the Waldwick Police Department and the people of Waldwick on Officer Goodell’s passing....On what must be a very difficult day and time of year, our prayers and thoughts are with them all."

Motor vehicle summonses charging Cumberbatch, 31, of Brooklyn with reckless driving and failing to maintain a proper lane will heard in Waldwick Municipal Court, the prosecutor said.

Waldwick Detective Sgt. Troy Seifert, Assistant Bergen Prosecutor Martin Delaney -- who presented the case -- and lead investigator Chris Kelly from the BCPO's office visited Goodell's loved ones to tell the outcome before it was publicly released.

"As a department we are disappointed," Lt. Douglas Moore told Daily Voice, "but we understand that the case went through the legal channels."

"The Bergen County Prosecutor's Office did an outstanding job presentng the case," he added, "but the outcome is ultimately up to the grand jury.

"We're disapointed for Chris's family and fiance and our hearts are with them."

Cumberbatch had remained free on $25,000 bail pending the outcome of the grand jury proceedings.

Goodell was working a radar detail in his unmarked cruiser, parked on the shoulder of southbound Route 17, when the 18-wheel commercial tractor-trailer crashed into it around 1:20 a.m. July 17, 2014.

The impact instantly killed the five-year veteran public servant and U.S. Marine.

“There was no evidence of pre-impact braking by the truck,” Molinelli said shortly after the crash. “[I]nstead it appears from the roadway evidence that Cumberbatch drove directly into the police car without stopping or attempting to stop.”

Goodell, 32, joined the U.S. Marine Corps after being graduated from Waldwick High School in 2000.

He served with the Waldwick Police Department for five years and was recently honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s New Jersey chapter for outstanding efforts in drunk driving enforcement.

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