NYC firefighter killed in NJ after a drunk driving accident
NEW YORK – 57-year-old John Monteverde of Whitestone, Queens was killed in a drunk driving accident in Union Township in New Jersey early Friday morning after he was hit by an apparent drunk driver.
The accident took place around 5:15 a.m. on North Avenue at Vivian Terrace in Union Township when the city firefighter collided with an alleged drunk driver in New Jersey. Monteverde was riding a motorcycle and was on his way to work at Engine 159 on Staten Island when he collided with a Honda Accord.
According to authorities, the incident happened about 100 yards from the site of another fatal crash that took place about three weeks ago.
Union Police Lt. Robert Christie said, “He was traveling to work. He was in his firehouse uniform.”
Monteverde, a highly decorated veteran, was reportedly travelling from a second home in Pennsylvania when the accident happened.
The Honda Accord he was hit with was being driven by 24-year-old Anthony Marsel of Elizabeth, N.J. who is facing multiple charges, including driving while intoxicated. Accident reports state that Marsel rolled through a stop sign before hitting the motorcycle. Monteverde was thrown from his bike as he took an evasive maneuver to avoid a collision, but the car hit him and he was thrown 30 feet.
According to Christie, there is no reason the driver could not have seen the motorcyclist coming. Monteverde was also wearing a reflective vest at the time of the accident.
Officers at the accident scene detected the odor of alcohol on Marsel’s breath and also noted that he had bloodshot eyes. He was charged with second-degree vehicular homicide, driving while intoxicated and other offenses in relation to the fatal accident. His bail was set at $100,000 with no cash option by state Superior Court Judge Thomas J. Walsh.
Fellow firefighters from the New York City Fire Department are mourning Monteverde’s death. One fellow firefighter, Mike Ruddick, spoke of their heroic efforts during the September 11 attacks.
“He spent a lot of time down at the World Trade Center,” Ruddick said. “We lost, as you can see right here, we lost nine guys. He spent a considerable amount of time looking for the guys, just as everyone here did. He felt bad about the whole situation, and he spent a good amount of time down there.”
A statement was issued by the Fire Commissioner, Salvatore Cassano, saying, “John selflessly served the city for more than 31 years during which he was cited four times for his bravery at fires and for his life-saving medical work as a member of Engine Company 22 in Manhattan. He also devoted countless hours working tirelessly at the World Trade Center site in the rescue and recovery effort following the September 11 terrorist attacks.”
Monteverde, one of New York’s bravest, was transferred five months ago to Engine Company 159 on Staten Island.
He leaves behind three adult children.