LINDEN — An off-duty Hillside police officer who'd only been on the job a few months died Monday after a crash with the cab of a truck on Route 1 and 9.

The crash occurred around 2:15 a.m. between a truck cab and a car on northbound Routes 1 and 9, at Pleasant Avenue in Linden, and closed the road in both directions between Avenue C and West Grand Avenue, according to Linden Police. Two occupants inside the car were initially hospitalized for serious injuries.

Officer Giovanni Esposito, a rookie who had only been with the department since April after graduating at the top of his class from the Essex County Police Academy, died shortly afterward. His identity was released to media Monday morning by Hillside police chief Vincent Ricciardi died shortly afterward.

"Officer Esposito loved his job and was a warm and friendly person who was well-liked by all who knew him," Vincent said in a statement. "He prided himself on serving the community of Hillside with diligence and compassion. His death is a profound loss to our department and we will miss him terribly. We wish his family solace and comfort during this extremely difficult time."

The crash is being investigated by the Linden Police Department, which has not yet made a statement about what led to the crash.

Routes 1 and 9 were reopened around 11 a.m., after being closed for nearly 9 hours.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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