CLIFTON, NJ- John Sroka loved to eat, he loved his girlfriend and he loved being busy.
After he was laid off from his job with the Passaic County Sheriff's Department in March, Sroka received just one unemployment check in the mail.
"He said, 'No more of this,'" said his father, Stanley, on Friday, and promptly got three part-time jobs.
It was while working one of those jobs on Thursday that Sroka, 24, was killed by a falling bale of paper at a Jersey City recycling plant.
Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said Friday that Sroka, a Clifton resident, was working at All American Recycling Corp. Thursday afternoon when a large bundle of recycled paper fell on him.
The recycling company estimated that the bundle weighed 1,800 pounds.
Although Sroka suffered severe trauma to his chest and legs, he was able to reach his cell phone and call his boss, who contacted other employees. Sroka's co-workers were able to lift the block of paper off him, and he was transported to Jersey City Medical Center.
He was pronounced dead at around 5:20 p.m., the result of an apparent heart attack.
Sroka's wanted to be a police officer, his family said. Sroka graduated with honors from the Passaic County Police Academy in July, earning top scores in marksmanship and athletic tests.
Sroka began working as a corrections officer in August 2006. Sgt. Paul Statuto, a Passaic County Jail supervisor, said that despite Sroka's tenure being a little more than a year, he was one of the best officers in his command.
"You couldn't ask for a better young officer," said Statuto, recalling Sroka's integrity, and willingness to take on extra duties.
"He enjoyed what he was doing," he said.
Sroka was among 40 officers laid off when the Sheriff's Department was forced to cut $11 million from its budget. In total, 130 employees lost their jobs.
Sroka's brother, Steven, remembered that a friend of Sroka's once called him at 5 a.m. in the morning with a flat tire.
"He didn't call anyone else, just John," Steven said.
Sroka got out of bed, drove to where his friend was parked, and changed the tire.
"There was not one bad thing about him," said his twin sister, Diane. "He was just the most amazing person."
Staff writer Paul Brubaker contributed to this report.
Reach Sarah Schillaci at 973-569-7164 or email@example.com