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Trucker brought to court in crash that killed Waldwick officer

Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

YOU SAW IT HERE FIRST: A long-haul driver who was behind the wheel when his tractor-trailer slammed into a Waldwick police officer’s car, killing him, was brought to court today for an initial appearance.

Ryon Cumberbatch, 28, said nothing as Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer read the charges of vehicular homicide.

He remained quiet and composed throughout the brief proceeding in Hackensack and sighed heavily as he sat with his attorney, David Glassman, waiting for the session to start.

Waldwick Police Officer Christopher Goodell

Judge Edward A. Jerejian continued Cumberbatch’s $25,000 bail, and told him the matter will be referred to a grand jury for a possible indictment.

“Then you’ll hear from us,” the judge told him.

The hearing was moved up to 11 a.m. so it wouldn’t interfere with a scheduled procession, beginning at 1 p.m., bringing the body of Waldwick Police Officer Christopher Goodell from the Vander Plaat Funeral Home in Wyckoff to St. Luke’s Church in Ho-Ho-Kus.

Visiting hours are from 2 – 9 p.m. today at the North Franklin Turnpike church, where the funeral is set for 11 a.m. tomorrow. Interment in St. Luke’s Cemetery will follow.

Goodell was working a radar detail in his unmarked cruiser, parked on the shoulder of southbound Route 17, when the 18-wheeler crashed into it around 1:20 a.m. Thursday.

The impact instantly killed the five-year veteran public servant and U.S. Marine, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said.

“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.”

Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer, Ryon Cumberbatch (STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter)

Local law enforcement has rallied to the aid of Waldwick police. Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli, president of the Bergen County Police Chiefs Association, and his colleagues have coordinated food delivery and are providing coverage during the visiting and funeral.

“This tragic accident gives pause to the inherent dangers of our profession,” Batelli said. “Please take a moment to reflect on the service of Officer Goodell to his country and the Waldwick community and remember him in your prayers.”

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.

Survived by his parents and fiancee, Goodell was “an outstanding and proactive officer,” Waldwick Police Chief Mark Messner said.

“Our sympathy and love goes out to the family and also to the police department,” Mayor Thomas Giordano added.

Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer, defense attorney David Glassman, Ryon Cumberbatch (STORY / COURTROOM PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter)

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