Jersey City, NJ – Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) Officer Morton Otundo died in an off-duty motorcycle crash on July 16.
The 40-year-old officer was traveling eastbound on Communipaw Avenue on his Yamaha motorcycle when a westbound Ford Escape turned left in front of him at the intersection with Woodward Street, NJ.com reported.
The 30-year-old driver of the SUV was transported to the hospital for an evaluation after the crash, according to the JCPD and the Hudson County Regional Collision Investigation Unit.
Officer Otundo was rushed to the Jersey City Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at approximately 2:30 a.m., NJ.com reported.
“This is a great loss to the JCPD and the entire Jersey City community,” Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop said of the veteran officer’s sudden death.
“Officer Otundo leaves behind a lasting legacy throughout the entire police department through his two younger brothers, who are also on the force, as well as the many officers with whom he took the time to mentor, sharing his knowledge to help provide guidance and ultimately strengthen the department overall,” Fulop continued, according to NJ.com. “We send our deepest condolences to Officer Otundo’s family.”
Officer Otundo was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, and moved to the United States in August of 2001, according to his obituary.
He began his law enforcement career working at the Jamesburg Juvenile Detention Center for the New Jersey State Police Corrections before later joining the JCPD.
“He was a hardworking Police Officer, if not the hardest working one,” his obituary read. “He loved the profession as it granted him an opportunity to assist his community. He was always ready to train new officers and take them under his wing. His proudest professional moment was when both his brothers followed his footsteps and joined the JCPD.”
Officer Otundo was president of his 2013 recruit class, NJ.com reported.
“Being a police officer is not about arresting people, it’s about helping people,” he said in a speech to his fellow classmates at the time.
Jersey City Police Officers Benevolent Association President Joseph Cossolini said Officer Otundo was “an incredible human being with a magnetic personality,” and that his death is a loss to the JCPD and the entire community, TAPinto reported.
“Words will never fully describe the impact he had on every life he touched,” Cossolini said.
Officer Otundo leaves behind his wife, Janis, and his young son, Andrew, according to his obituary.
He is also survived by his mother and siblings.
A fundraising page established to help his family in the wake of their loss has raised over $79,000 so far.
Officer Otundo was laid to rest on Thursday.
Jersey City mourns the loss of one of its finest today, Police Officer Morton Otundo, who died in an early-morning vehicular crash while off duty. The 8-year veteran was an exemplary officer who was at the top of his Police Academy Class in 2013. He will be missed. pic.twitter.com/8uGa1bvGh1
— City of Jersey City (@JerseyCity) July 16, 2021
We continue to mourn with the Jersey City Police Department upon the loss of Officer Morton Otundo. His sudden passing is a great loss for the Jersey City community he selflessly protected… pic.twitter.com/v7vKTGwtW4
— NJ TRANSIT POLICE (@NJTransitPolice) July 19, 2021
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Jersey City Police Department @jerseycitypolicedepartment @jerseycitypoba as they mourn the loss of Officer Morton Otundo. Rest In Peace Brother. #eow #jerseycitypolice #jcpd #jerseycity #police #cops #rip #thinblueline #backtheblue pic.twitter.com/LM2JNaj6w3
— North Bergen Police (@nbpolice) July 16, 2021
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Jersey City Police Department Officer Morton Otundo, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.