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Port Authority Officer Who Pitched In MLB, Wrong Way Driver Both Killed In NJ Turnpike Crash

PAPD Officer Anthony Varvaro.
PAPD Officer Anthony Varvaro. Photo Credit: Atlanta Braves/PAPD

An off-duty Port Authority officer and the wrong-way driver who struck him were both killed in a 9/11 crash on the New Jersey Turnpike in Hudson County, authorities said.

Anthony Varvaro, a 37-year-old married father of four, and former major league pitcher — was struck by Henry A. Plaras, 30, of Bridgewater, who was heading west on the Hudson Bay Extension in the eastbound lanes around 4:25 a.m. in Jersey City, New Jersey State Police Trooper Charles Marchan said.

Plaras' Toyota Rav4 struck Varvaro in a Nissan Maxima head-on causing the Nissan to strike the right concrete barrier. The crash remains under investigation.

Varvaro was on his way to work at the 9/11 commemoration at World Trade Center Command, Port Authority Police Supt. Edward Cetnar said.

"Officer Varvaro represented the very best of this agency, and will be remembered for his courage and commitment to service," Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole and Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said in a joint statement.

"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," they said.

A Staten Island native, Varvaro began his professional baseball career with the Seattle Mariners in 2020, earning the nickname "Little Pedro Martinez."

He spent four seasons for the Atlanta Braves and closed out his career with the Boston Red Sox, retiring in December 2016, before launching his career in law enforcement.

Varvaro was deeply involved in the community, as well. He became the president of Staten Island's Snug Harbor Little League this past April.

"Words cannot describe the tragedy that is losing [him]," the league posted on social media Sunday afternoon. "A man that embodied all that is good in youth sports, he will be forever missed.

"Not only was Anthony the President, he was a tremendous person. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers."

The Staten Island Baseball Oldtimers called Varvaro "a true gentleman and great family man. He was always willing to help the Staten Island sports community any way he could. He helped us run youth clinics and always had a smile on his face. He won our Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019. He will be truly missed."

Varvaro is survived by his wife, Kerry, his children and a host of family, friends and loved ones.

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