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Tributes mount for popular police officer killed on Turnpike

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

SALUTE TO A HERO: It’s a measure of Police Officer Claude Racine’s distinguished life that his death is being mourned so heavily throughout New Jersey and into parts of New York. And it’s tragic irony that it comes so close to the Police Unity Tour, a tribute to fallen officers in which Racine planned to ride his Harley.

Claude Racine with his son, Dakota, and wife, Linda O’Brien (FACEBOOK photos)

Racine, 44, lost control of the bike while headed east on the New Jersey Turnpike’s Hudson Bay Extension just before midnight yesterday.

He was pronounced dead at Jersey City Medical Center moments later.

“We are diminished,” Somerville Rescue Squad Lt. John Telesco, a friend of Racine’s, said today.

His was one of hundreds of tributes that have flowed steadily through social media since yesterday’s early morning hours.

Mass of Christian Burial: 10 a.m. Monday, Church of the Annunciation, 50 W. Midland Avenue, Paramus
Interment: Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington
Donations: Somerville PBA, c/o Dakota Racine Trust Fund, P.O. Box 158, Somerville, NJ  08876

Racine, who was with the Somerville Police Department the past 13 years, was a familiar figure in North Jersey. He lived in Paramus, got his start with the now-defunct Hudson County PD before a brief stint with the Palisades Interstate Parkway Police, then went to New Jersey City State College and married a North Bergen girl, Linda O’Brien. They have a son, 8-year-old Dakota.

Racine, a member of Thunder MC’s Meadowlands Chapter, was getting ready to ride in this year’s Police Unity Tour to Washington, D.C., on May 9. SEE: Officers to ride for those who died

He will undoubtedly be a prominent part of the ride now, with countless officers carrying his memory in their hearts.

Claude and Linda

“Each of us have people in our lives that God has given us. Some closer and some on the outer fringes,” wrote his cousin, Ralph Racine. “It’s really tough when the close ones get hit. It’s like being robbed.”

It’s especially true not only for his friends, colleagues and loved ones but for the many citizens who came to rely on Racine for his kindness and generosity. For instance, he personally organized a donation drive for Hurricane Katrina victims who were relocated to public housing in Perth Amboy. Racine had also been a member of the U.S. Army Reserves, prepared to protect and defend our country.

“I am sure I speak for many parents whose children Claude watched over,” wrote KT DelDeo Catlin. “There are no words that express our gratitude or our sorrow. He will always remain an inspiration to all who knew him.”

Added Meghan Persichino: “Claude, you showed me how to live by the love you gave to everyone else. My prayers go to the family and other friends of this truly great person.”

“I just told my son,” wrote Jo-El Misciagna, “and his reaction through his tears were ‘He was a such good man’.”

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