Services Held For Longtime Bergen Mom Killed In Wrong-Way Sussex Crash

A longtime Saddle Brook resident who was killed in a fiery wrong-way crash in Sussex County last week was laid to rest.

Requiescat in pace: Janet Esser
Requiescat in pace: Janet Esser Photo Credit: Kugler Home For Funerals / jacqlemon (

Janet Esser, 58, was driving a Ford Escape that crossed the double-yellow lines and crashed head-on into a Freightliner box truck on Ross Corner Sussex Road (Route 565) in Wantage Township last Wednesday, May 11, authorities said.

Her SUV burst into flames, killing her, NJ State Police said. An investigation was continuing, they said, without speculating on a cause.

SEE: Driver Killed In Fiery Sussex County Crash With Box Truck, State Police Say

The Hackensack-born Esser lived much of her life in Saddle Brook before moving to Yulee, FL.

She left two daughters, Alicia Mantzouranis of North Arlington and Kristie Mantzouranis (fiance Frank Santolla) of Rutherford; her partner, Dale Carter; her sisters, Christine Davis (Doug) of Woodcliff Lake and Catherine Kimberly (Travis) of Florida; her brothers, Joseph Esser (Lois) of North Carolina and Paul Esser (Nina) of Saddle Brook, as well as her cats, Sneakers and Morris.

Esser was pre-deceased by her brother, Peter R. Esser of Saddle Brook and parents, Sara and Peter R. Esser.

“Janet loved being active in her daughters' upbringing by coaching softball and leading her Girl Scout troop, especially on camping weekends,” according to her obituary. “She will be remembered for her contagious laughter, incredible sense of humor, and her playful, energetic spirit, which she brought to every relationship.”

A funeral Mass was held at Saint Philip The Apostle Church in Saddle Brook on Monday, May 16, followed by interment in George Washington Memorial Park Cemetery in Paramus.

Donations in Esser’s name can be made to the Friends of Animals.

Kugler Community Home for Funerals (311 North 5th Street, Saddle Brook) handled the arrangements.

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