- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 6, 2016

MILLVILLE, N.J. (AP) - A recently married rookie state trooper responding to an emergency call about an erratic driver was killed in a violent wreck on a highway when the erratic driver, traveling in the opposite direction, crossed a grassy median and slammed into his marked cruiser head-on, authorities said.

The driver of the other car also was killed.

The crash, which left debris and the mangled cars scattered on Route 55 in Millville, happened Monday night.

The 31-year-old trooper, Frankie Williams, was flown to a hospital in Camden, where he was pronounced dead, state police said. The driver of the other car, 61-year-old Elmer resident Lloyd Rudley, died at the scene.

Rudley was traveling south in a Toyota Corolla when he crossed the median into the northbound lanes and slammed into Williams’ cruiser, said state police, who on Tuesday were investigating why the crash happened.

State police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes said in a statement posted on social media Tuesday afternoon that the New Jersey State Police had “suffered a terrible loss.” He described Williams as “one of our best and brightest young troopers” and said the agency was left “heartbroken” by his death.

“The Division lost an exemplary young trooper with the promise of a great career,” Fuentes said in the statement. “A family lost an only child, a wife lost a husband, and New Jersey lost a leader and a role model.”

State police said Williams, of Atlantic County, was a member of the 156th state police class, which graduated Jan 29. He was assigned to the Port Norris Station and had been married in October.

In August, Williams responded to a parking lot in Pilesgrove Township after a person reported a toy poodle inside a vehicle with just one window open about an inch. The trooper saw the dog was lying on its side inside a crate and in obvious distress from heat stroke, state police said.

After breaking the window with is baton, he gave the dog water and it was taken to a veterinary hospital in critical condition. The dog eventually became stable, and authorities charged its owner, a Pennsylvania woman, with animal abuse.

According to Williams’ LinkedIn profile, his interests primarily dealt with people understanding and being aware of cybercrime.

Before joining the state police, he was a loss prevention manager for nearly six years for Lowe’s home improvement stores.

The only other New Jersey state trooper to die in the line of duty this year was Sean Cullen. He was struck and killed by a vehicle while assisting at the scene of a vehicle fire on Interstate 295 in Deptford Township in March.

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