Off-duty NJ cop shot himself just before crash

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) -- A New Jersey police officer initially thought to have been killed in a car crash died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, authorities said.

Hamilton Township Police Officer Tom White, 44, was off-duty Monday when his SUV struck the back of a van in Hamilton, Morris County prosecutors said.

White died at the scene. The van driver wasn't injured.

White spent nearly eight years on the Hamilton force, most recently as a middle school officer. He also served on the Hamilton Police Athletic League's board of directors.

White and another officer were recognized for rescuing two people during a fatal house fire in January 2011.

The crash came three days after another collision in Woolwich Township that killed an off-duty officer and injured his wife and three children. 

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Hamilton Township Mayor Kelly Yaede issued a statement:

"The loss of any member of our Township Government family is always heartbreaking, but when we lose someone who has made such a positive impact in the lives of our community's children – as was the case with Police Officer Tom White – it is even more heartbreaking.

"Through his work in our schools as a 'Law Enforcement Against Drugs' officer and his leadership in our popular Police Athletic League 'Safety Town' program that generations of Hamiltonians have benefitted from, Officer White has touched many lives and worked to ensure the safety of our young people. For that, our community will always be grateful.    

"On behalf of the nearly 90,000 residents of Hamilton Township, as well as our entire Township Government, I want to extend our collective sympathies and our prayers for Officer White's family and loved ones during this extremely difficult time. May they always take solace in the fact that his legacy will endure through the achievements of the countless children he served across our community."

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