UPDATE: Retired cop, avid bicyclist dies following crash during Police Unity Tour

Joseph Franklin (Jim Simonetti via Facebook)

The retired Roxbury Police officer critically injured Monday during the multi-state Police Unity Tour had been part of a dozen-bicyclist pileup, the head of the state's largest police union told New Jersey 101.5 Wednesday morning.

In an interview on Bill Spadea's morning show Wednesday, New Jersey State Policemen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Colligan said retired Lt. Joseph Franklin was "in grave ... in critical condition" after suffering a severe head injury.

"It was really just a large bike pileup, which happens unfortunately when you put 400 riders in a group," Colligan said. "A couple of bikers went down, and because we follow so closely and try to keep the line tight, everybody — I think there was about a dozen members who crashed."

Colligan asked New Jersey 101.5 listeners to "please keep him in your prayers." He said the incident had "put a pall" on the ride, a four-day annual event to honor police officers who'd died in the line of duty. The ride will end at the National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial and Museum in Washington, D.C.

The incident had reportedly occurred in Far Hills, just about nine miles south of Roxbury, the Morris County community Franklin served.

According to state pension records, Franklin was born in 1959 and retired from Roxbury in 2007 after serving 25 years with the police department.

"We ask that you keep Retired Lieutenant Joe Franklin in your thoughts," Roxbury Police wrote on their Facebook page Tuesday. "While participating in the Police Unity Tour yesterday he sustained serious injuries from an accident while on his bike. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. We will pray for you, Lt. Franklin."

Related video:

Sign up for the NJ1015.com Newsletter

Get the best of NJ1015.com delivered to your inbox every day.