EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A 44-year-old Union City police sergeant headed to work from Lyndhurst was killed in a multi-vehicle crash on Route 3 late Saturday.
Sgt. Mark Zeitounian was driving a car that was struck from behind on the eastbound highway near the Hackensack River Bridge, igniting a chain reaction that involved four vehicles, Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal said, confirming an earlier Daily Voice report.
The 18-year veteran was killed and five other people were injured, he said.
No charges were immediately filed. However, the Bergen County Prosecutor's Fatal Accident Unit was continuing an investigation, Grewal said.
Early Sunday, Zeitounian's department posted a tribute on its Facebook page:
"Last night the Union City Police Department lost a good man, Sergeant Mark Zeitounian, in a tragic motor vehicle accident.
"Sergeant Zeitounian was a graduate of Union Hill High School class of 1994 where he was a standout football player. He was hired at the Union City Police Department in 1999 and graduated from the Bergen County Police Academy Class #84.
"At the Union City Police Department, Mark served his whole career in the Patrol Division. Mark, was a knowledgeable police officer and supervisor who you could always count on to get the job done. He passed on his knowledge by serving as a training officer for newly hired officers.
"Around the police station you could catch Mark talking about his wife Debbie, his son Jason, his dog Bosco or his beloved Washington Redskins. Mark's passing extends a pain in our hearts still there from the passing of PO Ricky Fernandez. We hope that you both meet up and reminisce about your stories from the 4-12 shift.
"To Mark's family, his wife Debbie, his son Jason, his sister Maria, your Union City Police Department family is always here to comfort you and support you, as we know you are for us.
"From the moment that Mark was hired in 1999 until last night, we were always by his side. We will always be by your side. UCPD Sgt. Mark Zeitounian #350 your watch has ended we've got it from here. May you rest in eternal peace!"