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NEWARK, N.J. -- Belleville police officer Melissa Corrado was released from a Newark hospital yesterday, a day after her partner died in a car accident while responding to a call, the township's police chief said.
Corrado, a 28-year-old Hopatcong resident, left University Hospital following treatment for head and rib injuries, Belleville Police Chief Joseph Rotonda said. She was taken there after the Nutley crash that killed officer Kenneth Santucci, a 33-year-old Belleville husband and father.
"She's doing much better than when I saw her yesterday," Rotonda said. "She's still hurting."
At Santucci's Chestnut Street home yesterday, relatives, friends and fellow officers offered their condolences as a Belleville officer stood guard outside.
"She's holding up as well as to be expected," Rotonda said of Santucci's wife, Tricia, who is seven months pregnant. The couple has two sons, Kenneth and Anthony.
The chief said his department is trying to cope with Santucci's death, with some officers receiving counseling to help them deal with their grief. No Belleville officer has died in the line of duty since officer James Smith died in a motorcycle accident in 1951, the chief said.
"We're doing the best we can," he said. "We understand we lost a fellow officer. We understand it's an unfortunate part of our job."
Some people expressed their grief at the Union Avenue accident scene by placing flowers, candles and American flags beside the utility pole the cruiser struck.
No charges have been filed against the 51-year-old Bloomfield woman whose black Toyota collided with the cruiser at 7:30 a.m. Saturday as the officers were en route to a report of a suspicious person in the area, authorities said. Rotonda said the area in Nutley where the accident occurred is near the Belleville border and on the officers' patrol route.
Authorities are withholding the Bloomfield woman's name. She was treated at Mountainside Hospital in Glen Ridge.
Santucci, the driver, lost control and hit the pole at Union Avenue and King Street. Both officers were ejected; authorities said they did not know if they wore seat belts.
Santucci was taken to Clara Maass Hospital in Belleville, where he was pronounced dead.
He had joined his hometown police force in January, after serving in the Newark Police Department for more than two years. Before Santucci's graduation from the Newark Police Academy, he worked as a registered nurse at Summit Oaks Hospital in Summit.
Santucci attended Belleville Middle School, Queen of Peace High School and Mountainside Hospital School of Nursing.
Visitation will be from 7 to 9 p.m. tomorrow and from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Biondi Funeral Home, 540 Franklin Ave., Nutley. A Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Holy Family Church, 20 Brookline Ave., Nutley. Burial will be private.