Anthony Varvaro, a Port Authority officer was one of two people who were killed in a wrong-way crash early Sunday morning on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Varvaro, who previously pitched for six seasons in the MLB, was heading into New York City to serve as “a detail assignment at the World Trade Center 9/11 Ceremony,” according to officials.
Trooper Brandi Slota, a spokesperson for the New Jersey State Police, told People the accident occurred around 4:25 a.m. when the 37-year-old officer was nearing the Holland Tunnel.
Varvaro was heading east when another vehicle, driven by Henry Plazas, 30, of Bridgewater, NJ, traveling west struck the former baseball player head-on. Varvaro’s vehicle slammed into a concrete barrier.
Both drivers were killed.
As officials continue to investigate the crash, friends, family, and colleagues mourn the loss of Varvaro.
The married father of four from Staten Island always wanted to be a police officer, but prior to becoming an officer he not only excelled as a student at St. John’s, but also as a baseball player.
“Not only was he everything you could want out of a ball player, he was everything you could want in a person,” his former head coach Mike Hampton said.
The Associated Press reported he was drafted by Seattle in the 12th round in 2005, and later went on to play for the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox.
While he enjoyed a successful career in the MLB, he still longed to become a police officer.
“I figured that I had a pretty successful career in baseball, I had played a number of seasons, and I was fine moving on to the next step of my life,” he told his alma mater’s newspaper in December 2016.
And that’s precisely what he did.
He voluntarily retired from the MLB and joined the Port Authority Police Department in 2016 where he served as a patrol officer before becoming an instructor at the Port Authority Police Academy.
New Jersey’s Governor Murphy extended his condolences to Varvaro’s family, as did Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole and Executive Director Rick Cotton.
“[He] will be remembered for his courage and commitment to service. On this solemn occasion as the Port Authority mourns the loss of 84 employees in the attacks on the World Trade Center — including 37 members of the Port Authority Police Department — our grief only deepens today with the passing of Officer Varvaro.”
My heart breaks for Anthony’s loved ones. May everyone’s prayers comfort them during these dark times.