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March 08, 2016

N.J. state trooper dies after being struck by vehicle

The incident occured Monday evening on I-295 in West Deptford

Crashes Police
Sean Cullen New Jersey State Trooper Courtesy/New Jersey State Police

New Jersey State Police Trooper Sean E. Cullen died from injuries he suffered when he was struck by a car along I-295 in March 2016.

New Jersey State Trooper Sean Cullen, 31, has died after being struck by a vehicle on I-295 in West Deptford Township.

The New Jersey State Police said on Facebook the trooper had stopped Monday night along the shoulder of I-295 near Exit 23 to assist with a car fire. Soon after, fire trucks arrived, and another vehicle not involved in the incident struck Cullen and the disabled car that was on fire, causing it to spin out of control.

Cullen suffered severe head injuries and was transported by medical helicopter to Cooper University Hospital. He died early Tuesday from his injuries, the New Jersey State Police posted on Facebook. 

The police said that the 31-year-old Cullen was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1985 and he emigrated to the U.S. in March of 1988 at the age of 3. 

Cullen was a 2003 graduate of Cinnaminson High School, and an All-American wrestler at Lycoming College where he earned a degree in Criminal Justice in 2007, the police noted.

"He was beloved by everybody. He was one of the good ones. We're all really distraught," Mike McConnell, a wrestling coach and teacher at Cinnaminson High School, told "The fact he was such a successful wrestler, we knew he'd accomplish his goal and be a state trooper."

After college, Cullen served as an officer of the Sea Isle City and Mount Holly police departments before becoming a patrolman with the Westampton Police Department in Burlington County, New Jersey, for two years. 

On Aug. 29, 2014, Cullen joined the New Jersey State Police as a member of the 154th recruit class, and he was assigned to Troop "A" where he served at both Bunea Vista and Bellmawr stations, police said. 

"It is with a heavy heart that we mourn the passing of Trooper Sean Cullen, who made the ultimate sacrifice while helping those in need," Col. Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, said. "His life and service to the citizens of New Jersey can be characterized as honorable, loyal, and faithful. On behalf of the New Jersey State Police family, we ask that you keep Trooper Cullen's family, friends and loved ones in your thoughts and prayers as we deal with this painful loss."

Gov. Chris Christie also offered his condolences.

"Every day, the men and women of the New Jersey state police put their lives on the line to protect our citizens," the Republican governor said. "The sudden and tragic loss of New Jersey State Trooper Sean Cullen reminds us how fragile life truly is and the dangers police officers face daily on the job."

The last New Jersey state trooper to die in the line of duty was Eli McCarson. He was responding to a call in Salem County on Dec. 17 when his patrol car struck a utility pole.

The cause and circumstances of the crash that killed Cullen are still under investigation. The 22-year-old woman who hit the trooper stopped at the scene and was cooperating with investigators.

No charges have been filed. The investigation was ongoing.

Cullen is survived by his fiancé, nine-month-old son, mother, father, two brothers, and a sister, police said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.