Home » Husband of fallen officer says wife died in unsuccessful attempt to save daughter in residential fire – Law Officer

Husband of fallen officer says wife died in unsuccessful attempt to save daughter in residential fire – Law Officer

by John Hensley


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HAZLET, N.J. – A Customs and Border Protection officer in New Jersey did not survive an attempt to save her young daughter from their burning home in the town of Hazlet, the woman’s husband said.

Jacqueline Montanaro and her six-year-old daughter Madelyn died in the residential blaze early Saturday morning. The woman’s husband William Montanaro and their eight-year-old daughter Elena survived, reported NJ.com.

Fire alarms went off about midnight on Friday/Saturday morning, waking the family. William rushed to find his wife, two daughters and dog to make sure everyone made it out of the burning home safely.

William, Jacqueline and Elena made their way through the smoke-engulfed house. Although it was difficult to navigate, they made their way to safety.

However, Madelyn remained inside, so both parents re-entered the residence to find their daughter and bring her out, according to the news outlet.

“When I rushed back into the house for Madelyn, I became enveloped in a massive amount of thick, hot black smoke,” William said in a statement issued by his brother, Domenico Montanaro, a reporter for NPR.

“Without hesitation, Jackie then charged in with a mother’s love and the courage of a police officer fueling her attempt to save our daughter,” the husband continued.

As plumes of smoke filled the house, William re-emerged empty handed. Sadly, his wife and youngest daughter failed to make it out safely.

Jacqueline and Madelyn were later found and transported to the hospital in critical condition before they both succumbed to their injuries.

“I am heartbroken. I have lost the love of my life – my beautiful wife, Jackie – and my sweet, loving, spunky little girl, Madelyn,” William said, adding that “Jackie was a hero.”

William said that Jacqueline worked as a supervisory U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at Newark Liberty International Airport, Fox News Digital reported.

Jacqueline Montanaro
William Montanaro said his wife worked as a supervisory U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at Newark Liberty International Airport. (Wikipedia Commons)

Although authorities said the fire is not suspicious, they also said it remains unclear how it started. The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office told local media that the incident is under investigation.

William said in his statement that he is now focused on helping his surviving daughter receive the “support and help she’s going to need, so we can rebuild our lives together.”

He said his brother was out on Sunday with an organization called Hound Hunters searching for the family’s missing dog, Duchess, a copper-colored Goldendoodle, NJ.com reported.

“A search continues for our beloved dog, Duchess,” William said in the statement. “Thank you to our neighbors and the scores of people, the Hazlet Police Department and surrounding communities’ law enforcement who have been, and continue to, press to find her.”

A GoFundMe page for the family started by Customs United Service Alliance, Jacqueline’s Customs’ union, raised more than $220,000 as of Monday morning.

“We cannot express in words how tragic the loss of this amazing Supervisor, Colleague, Friend, Mom and Hero is to our community,” the fundraiser read. “Jackie’s ability to get any job done at work was only second to her love and devotion to her family at home.”

Additionally, the Monmouth County Council of the Boy Scouts that William works for is collecting donations for their Alumni Disaster Fund to support needs of the family.

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