They gave their lives upholding our tradition of Honor, Duty, Fidelity.
Badge: # 1809
Cause: Ped/MV Accident
Site: NJ Turnpike Interchange #13 Elizabeth, Union Co.
Stationed: Troop "D" Newark
Service Time: 5 years 3 months
Resided: Bayonne, Hudson Co.
Thomas W. Kavula was born in Bayonne, Hudson County, New Jersey, on November 4, 1941. A high school graduate, he attended St. Peter's College in Jersey City, New Jersey for one year before joining the New Jersey State Police.
Not wishing to follow in his father's restaurant business, Trooper Kavula played minor league baseball and was signed-up by the Cincinnati baseball organization and given a try-out. He decided to give-up a possible baseball career and become a New Jersey State Trooper.
Trooper Kavula enlisted in the New Jersey State Police on June 10, 1963 as a member of the 61st Class. Upon graduation, he was assigned to Troop "B" and later to Troop "D", Newark. Trooper Kavula's service with the Division was characterized by loyalty, fearless performance of duty, and faithful and honorable devotion to the principles of the New Jersey State Police.
Trooper Kavula died from injuries received as a result of being struck by a motor vehicle while performing his duties of directing traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike.
At 8:50 a.m. on Thursday, September 19, 1968, Trooper Kavula was directing traffic at an accident scene outside Toll #13, Elizabeth, on a right turn leading to the Goethal's Bridge. A tractor-trailer made the turn to go up the ramp to Goethal's Bridge. Trooper Kavula was knocked down by the right-rear tandem wheels of the tractor-trailer. As Trooper Kavula fell on his back, the first tandem wheels went over his legs and lower body. He turned himself to the left, escaping injury to the upper portion of his body.
The truck driver did not stop, but continued on. Another truck driver, who witnessed the accident, jumped into Trooper Kavula's troop car and gave chase, stopping the truck just before the Toll Booths of the Goethal's Bridge. The truck driver who struck Trooper Kavula was found to be under the influence of amphetamines.
Trooper Kavula served 5 years and 3 months with the New Jersey State Police.
Trooper Kavula was transported to the Elizabeth General Hospital where, at 5:06 p.m. he died. He was survived by his wife and a 4 year-old daughter. He was 27 years old.