The family of Giuseppe Zuccarello, a 78-year-old man who was struck and killed on the New Jersey Turnpike, is offering a reward for information that leads to the arrest of the tractor-trailer driver responsible.
On Aug. 23 at approximately 10:45 p.m., Zuccarello was returning to the Queens Garden Center, his business, with tomatoes from a South Jersey farm. He was standing outside a parked box truck along the northbound truck lanes between exits 8A and 9 when he was hit by a tractor-trailer. The tractor-trailer did not stop after the collision, but sustained damage to its fender, bumper, and headlights.
According to Richard Zuccarello, Giuseppe’s son, his father’s body was located about 100 feet away in a ravine. When the truck did not return by the next morning, Richard and his brother, suspecting Giuseppe might have stopped for a rest, used the Life 360 app to track his location to the Turnpike. Richard described the distressing scene his brother encountered when he found the truck, still running, with their father’s phone inside, but Giuseppe was absent. A Turnpike Authority worker later discovered Giuseppe’s body.
A nearby camera was reportedly not functional, but the Zuccarello family possesses photos of truck parts located near the scene. Richard shared that these parts, when taken to the Elizabeth Truck Center, matched those of a recent model Freightliner. The family has requested State Police to review E-ZPass records in hopes of identifying the suspect’s truck.
Richard mentioned that the truck his father was driving was rented, and upon its return, a mechanic identified a warning light that was on, suggesting there might have been a reason Giuseppe had stopped.
The Zuccarello family is taking multiple measures to gather information, from contemplating the purchase of billboards to hiring a team of investigators. Richard voiced concerns about the pace of the official investigation, emphasizing the unique aspects of the suspected tractor-trailer.
Giuseppe Zuccarello, who leaves behind four children and 14 grandchildren, was a diligent worker, described by his son as an unwavering “machine” when it came to his work ethic. Giuseppe’s journey to the U.S. was notable, having arrived as a stowaway and being deported twice, only to be brought back each time through the sponsorship of his employer.
Middlesex County Prosecutor Yvonne Ciccone has urged anyone with relevant information or surveillance footage of the incident to contact her office 732-745-4328 or State Police at 609-860-9000 ext. 4424.