A Jersey City police lieutenant was killed this morning after being struck by a car while assisting someone on the New Jersey Turnpike, according to Mayor Steven Fulop.
By John Heinis and Marc Bussanich
Lt. Chris Robateau, a 23-year veteran of the department, was killed this morning after assisting someone on the turnpike while on the way to work. Robateau was also the 2nd vice president of the Jersey City Police Superior Officers Association, according to their website.
At a 12 noon press conference Fulop, joined by Police Chief Michael Kelly, ranking members of the JCPSOA and members of the city council, lamented the tragic event that occurred at around 7:00 AM this morning.
“This morning Jersey City lost a very terrific police officer. Lt. Robateau was traveling north [on his way to work in a SUV] on the New Jersey Turnpike when he was involved in a minor motor vehicle accident, which occurred near Exit 14 in Newark,” Fulop began.
“He got out of his vehicle to aid the driver of the other vehicle involved when he was struck with considerable force by another vehicle, a pickup truck, and perished at the scene.”
Kelly praised Robateau for his long years of service with the Jersey City Police Department before taking questions from the media.
“Lt. Robateau’s instincts were always to help and save others, and that’s what he was doing when he was struck. We’re talking about a man who was one of the most decorated and most active police officers and supervisors that we had. We have over 900 police officers in Jersey City, he may have been one of our best,” said Kelly.
Both Kelly and Fulop then took questions, but Kelly, who was at the scene 20 minutes after the tragedy, said that the New Jersey State Police are still investigating the incident and didn’t want to give a full account of the accident for that reason.
“The state police are conducting their investigation, so I’m not going to go into the exact details except to tell you that Lt. Robateau was involved in a minor motor vehicle accident with a DHL truck and after getting out of his vehicle to assist the driver [of the DHL truck] he was struck and killed,” Kelly said.
Kelly was then asked if the inclement weather contributed to the driver of the pick-up truck, who sustained minor injuries and whose identity will ultimately be revealed by the state police, striking Robateau.
“That’s an interesting fact, that’s the first thing I looked at when I arrived at the scene. But the only thing I can tell you is that the sun was coming up over the horizon; he was traveling northbound and who knows if that was a factor or not, that’s all going to be for the state police to determine,” Kelly explained.
Kelly also noted that Robateau had over 40 meritorious police service awards, “which in itself is an extraordinary number and he also had some accommodations which means that he put his life in the line of danger.”
“So the combination of the awards that he won was a testament to the activity level he demonstrated across his entire career.”
Fulop also noted that the city will be honoring all of the fallen officers benefits for his family even though it could be argued he was not officially on duty at the time since he was on his way to work.
“We will recognize it as if he was on duty at the time because he was assisting another vehicle. I think that is something that we would want any police officer to do regardless of their location. That means his family will have full health benefits, as well as full pension going forward,” Fulop said.
The full press conference was streamed on our Facebook page and can be viewed below: