Firefighter died when he struck intoxicated teen’s van stopped on Parkway, cops say
Authorities are continuing their investigation after a 17-year veteran of the Wallington fire department was killed in a crash with an allegedly intoxicated teenager this weekend.
Frank Stetz, 48, was killed when his motorcycle struck a van being driven by the teen on the Garden State Parkway Toms River, State Police Sgt. Jeff Flynn said. The driver of the van had stopped in a center lane in an apparent attempt to leave the Parkway at Exit 82, he said.
"So when he was stopped, Stetz rear-ended him," Flynn said.
No one else was in the vehicle with the teen, police said.
In addition to being charged with driving while intoxicated, the teen was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
He is not yet facing any charges in connection with the death, though the investigation is continuing. A vehicular manslaughter charge could apply if authorities determine the teen's actions or alleged intoxication contributed to Stetz's death.
According to Stetz's obituary, he leaves behind his parents, two brothers and a sister, and their spouses.
Cousin Danny Szpty told ABC 7 he'd been out riding with Frank and another friend hours before the crash.
"That was his life, that and the fire department," he said. "Those were the two things that he loved. ... He passed away doing exactly what he loved."
Mayor Mark Tomko, a former chief and longtime member of the department, told the station a memorial for fallen firefighters outside their station is a reminder of the community's spirit.
"It's not just the firefighters themselves," he said. "It's the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, wives, all of us. You're there for one another."
Visitation for Stetz will be Friday at the Warner and Wozniak funeral home on Midland Avenue in Wallington, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. A funeral service will be Saturday at The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus on Paterson Avenue, at 10 a.m.