RIDGEFIELD PARK, N.J. -- Heartfelt expressions of grief and condolence continued to pour into the village of Ridgefield Park on Friday, as word spread of the death of a beloved volunteer fireman in a motorcycle accident nearly a year to the day that his youngest child was born.
Freddie Montanez, 32, was killed when his motorcycle was involved in a four-vehice crash on the southbound Pulaski Skyway (Routes 1 & 9) in Newark just after 11 p.m. Thursday, authorities said. He was pronounced dead at the scene, they said.
Montanez had two children with his wife of two years, Elaine Parra. He also had an adopted daughter who lived with them, in addition to four other children from a previous relationship.
A GoFundMe account was established to help Montanez's family: Freddie Montanez Memorial Fund
Flags were lowered to half-mast throughout the village on Friday, as Ridgefield Park Engine 4 continued to receive condolences throughout the day from colleagues near and far.
"Couldn't ask for a better person, firefighter, but most importantly a friend," wrote Brian O'Grady, captain of the village department's Ladder Co. 1.
Montanez, who worked as commercial painter and founded an Essex County contracting business, joined the village department two years ago and was studying to become a career firefighter.
He "walked around with this vibe surrounding [him]," O'Grady said. "Always smiling, always laughing, always polite, one of the nicest guys I've ever met."