SADDLE BROOK, N.J.– "We all love to be remembered," the Rev. Thomas Norton told those gathered Wednesday for the annual Blue Mass in Saddle Brook. "But if we want to be remembered, we have a duty to remember others."
The list of area law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty included Fair Lawn Officer Mary Ann Collura, Waldwick Officer Christopher Goodell, Cliffside Park Officer Stephen Petruzzello; Lt. Brian Beutel of the Bergen County Sheriff's Office and Saddle Brook Special Officer Gregory Korczak.
"I think it's very personal if we can pay special tribute to the families who were left behind, especially by our local fallen officers," Saddle Brook Police Chief Robert Kugler said after the memorial service at St. Philip the Apostle Church.
Surviving loved ones of 12 officers from across the state received flowers at the close of the Mass.
"One word that comes to mind when you think of police officers is sacrifice," the Rev. Theemas Pankiraj said. "They sacrifice their time, they sacrifice themselves."
Student Council representatives from Saddle Brook Middle/High School joined others in a pre-Mass march to the church.
The procession included Ron and Linda Petruzzello, who drove their son's 2007 Ford Mustang, and Mark Goodell, who was behind the wheel of his son's 1966 Ford F-100.
"I hope [these vehicles] bring awareness to officers' deaths," Ron Petruzzello said.
Chris Goodell bought his truck when he was 16, his father said. He and his dad stripped it to the frame and were planning to restore it when his police cruiser was struck by an 18-wheeler on the shoulder of southbound Route 17 the morning of July 17, 2014.
The impact instantly killed him.
The elder Goodell completed work on his personal truck in memory of his son this past winter.