How a NJ Trooper Who Died in Route 55 Crash Was a Hero To a Single Mom
TRENTON — A friend of fallen rookie State Police officer Frankie Williams wants to remember the trooper by having everyone light up their homes in blue.
"While the family wishes to have their privacy and time to grieve alone, let's come together and show our support. Let Mrs. Williams and their family see the abundance of blue lights and know that his death is not in vain; that he touched the lives of so many and will forever live on as a hero," Jessica Ashley wrote on her Facebook page.
Williams was killed Monday in the line of duty on Route 55 in Millville when a car heading southbound on Route 55 went across the grassy median and slammed head-on into his northbound cruiser, authorities said. The driver of the Toyota Corolla also died in the crash.
State Police mid-Tuesday identified that driver as Lloyd Rudley, 61, of Elmer. Rudley's car matched witness descriptions of a vehicle that was driving erratically in the area, and that Williams was responding to investigate, State Police said.
Ashley said she used to work at the Lowe's in Egg Harbor Township with Williams in 2010 and was shocked at his death.
"He got me though. ... I was a single mom I had a lot going on and I wanted to give up so many times, and he would push me and tell me I couldn't. Every day he would push me. He was there. He had such a big heart. He would do anything for anyone."
Williams had just got married in October, and Ashley met his wife a few times.
"The love that he and his wife had was like a fairy tale. He could light up a room just talking about her. They had what everyone always dreams of. I feel so bad for her," Ashley said.
Ashley said Williams at first wanted to go to medical school but changed his career track to law enforcement. "He finally got what he wanted and then this happens," Ashley said, adding that he had a "thing" for helping people.
"He was super smart. Probably the smartest person I've ever known. He had ambition. He wouldn't settle for an option that wasn't him," Ashley said.
North WIldwood Mayor Patrick Romenello was moved by Williams' death to fly city flags at half-staff on Tuesday.
"North Wildwood is the host town of the Mid Atlantic Police and Fire Survivors Weekend, so we are very cognizant of issues when police and fire personnel die in the line of duty," Romenello said.
Col. Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, called Williams' death a "terrible loss" that has left the entire agency heartbroken.
"The division lost an exemplary young trooper with the promise of a great career. A family lost an only child, a wife lost a husband, and New Jersey lost a leader and a role model," Fuentes said in a statement.
Williams is the second State Police officer to die in the line of duty in 2016. Trooper Sean Cullen died after being hit responding to a vehicle fire on Route 295 in Deptford on March 8.
Trooper Eli McCarson lost control of his cruiser in a heavy rain and died last December after just 10 months of service en route to a domestic violence call in Quinton Township.