MILLVILLE, N.J. (CBS) – Family and friends will gather at a candlelight vigil tonight to remember New Jersey State Police Trooper Frankie Williams, who was killed in the line of duty on Monday following a head-on crash.
Williams was responding to an erratic driver call near Rt.55 Monday night when authorities say 61-year-old Lloyd Rudley, of Elmer, New Jersey crossed the grass median and struck his car.
Rudley died at the scene and Williams later died at the hospital.
A lifelong friend of Rudley says he suffered severe diabetes.
“He was in the hospital for a while until they got the diabetes under control but I don’t think he ever recovered fully,” says Kristi Schaller of Elmer.
New Jersey State Police said despite only being on the job less than a year, Williams performed his duty like a veteran.
“Just this past August, with just six months on the job, Trooper Williams rescued a dog that was locked inside of a car with only a cracked window on a hot summer day. Without hesitation, he broke the car window with his expandable baton and removed the dog from the car. He then brought the dog, which was suffering from heat stroke, to a shaded area, pouring water over the its body to cool it down before giving it water to drink.”
Williams was assigned to Port Norris Station, where the flags are now flying at half-staff.
Neighbor Jim Crescenzo says Williams was hard-working and passionate.
“He was all excited he was going to be a state trooper and this was his dream come true,” Crescenzo said. “He had been working at Lowes. I believe he went To Ruters and got his degree and this is what he wanted to do.
Port Norris resident Tina Piper, wiping away tears, says she had to stop in and talk to the troopers.
“I just had to come and give my condolences to them, that’s all. I thought it was my responsibility.”
Williams was a member of the 156th State Police Class, graduating Jan. 29, 2016.
Williams, who recently got married, was the fourth New Jersey State Police trooper to die in the line of duty in the last 18 months.
The candlelight vigil will be held tonight at 7 p.m. at the Leesburg Fire Hall located at 550 Main St. in Leesburg.
Organizers tell CBS 3 that they are expecting a large turnout and urge drivers to carpool.