Tanker truck driver killed on NJ Turnpike ID'd as longtime fire chief
Anthony Jackson joined the Pedricktown Fire Co. as a junior firefighter and was serving as an assistant chief for the company at the time of his death
By Jenna Wise
NJ Advance Media Group
MILLTOWN, N.J. — Trucks were a huge part of Anthony Jackson’s life.
He drove them across the country as a career, and operated them for more than 40 years as a volunteer firefighter in his New Jersey community,
That’s why it was particularly shocking to his family and loved ones when he died in a tanker truck crash early Tuesday morning on the New Jersey Turnpike in Milltown, Middlesex County. He was 60 years old.
Jackson, a native of Pedricktown in Oldmans Township, Salem County, knew fairly early in life that he wanted to drive trucks and fight fires.
He joined the Pedricktown Fire Co. as a junior firefighter at 16 years old, and was serving as an assistant fire chief for the company at the time of his death. Other firefighters mourned him as a mentor to younger members of the company.
“He loved the fire company and always wanted to be a truck driver,” his wife Arlene said.
Jackson, known as “AJ” among friends, met Arlene on the job. The pair were both truck drivers and quickly became a driving team who drove routes through 47 states. Jackson was still making local trips when he died, Arlene said.
“I just think he loved people and wanted to be out there seeing people and talking,” she said.
Jackson went to great lengths to take care of his trucks, Arlene said. He never drove when he was tired, and when he stopped driving for the day, he would get out and carefully inspect the truck for any damage.
He was traveling south on the Turnpike near marker 80.9 when his rig went off the road to the left, struck the guardrail and rolled, the New Jersey State Police said. He was hauling acid, but none of it spilled.
“I don’t understand what could’ve possibly happened," Arlene said.
Fire departments around the state offered condolences Tuesday as news of Jackson’s death spread. In addition to years of service fighting fires, Jackson helped train up-and-coming firefighters through teaching at the Salem County Fire Academy. Arlene plans to hold a fire memorial for her husband on Oct. 19.
When he wasn’t driving or gong to fire calls, Jackson enjoyed showing his Doberman — one of the couple’s five dogs — at dog shows.
Jackson previously served in the National Guard and was a World War II buff, his wife said. If he was going to watch TV, it was always going to be tuned to a channel showing military programs.
Jackson engrained himself in the community through his public service and wasn’t afraid to speak up at the town meetings when he believed he should, Arlene said.
“He was a very good husband. I could not have had a better husband, and that is the God honest truth," she said. “He’s going to be missed an awful lot.”
Arlene and her husband were always in sync, she said. They could finish each other’s sentences and guess what one another was thinking.
She knows her husband would want her to go on as best she can.
“Other than one step at a time I don’t know how that’s going to happen,” Arlene said.
"He was my best friend.”
©2019 NJ Advance Media Group, Edison, N.J.