Off-duty cop killed in Newark crash

September 28, 2008 8:14:57 PM PDT
The body of an off-duty Elizabeth police officer was found Sunday inside a partially submerged car in a retention basin near Newark Liberty International Airport, but the death was not considered suspicious.Authorities said Jason Samaritano, 35, of Toms River was the only person in the vehicle, which was noticed by a passing motorist at about 9:30 a.m. He was pronounced dead at the scene, which is near an off-ramp to Routes 1 & 9 in Newark, but the cause of death had not been determined as of Sunday night.

Samaritano had served on the Elizabeth force for eight years, and police officials there would not comment on his death.

It was not immediately clear what caused the accident or when it had occurred. However, Detective Todd McClendon, a Newark police spokesman, said there were no signs of foul play and that no other vehicles appeared to have been involved.

Authorities believe Samaritano's car broke through a guardrail and dropped down an embankment, near the Haynes Avenue exit and the northern end of the airport.

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