By Amanda Hoover, NJ .com
The New Jersey State Trooper who died in an off-duty crash always knew he wanted to serve in the military and had dreamed of taking over his hometown police department as chief one day.
“He’s very focused,” Brian McNally’s father, Kevin, said in a phone call with NJ Advance Media from his Morristown home Monday afternoon.
“He always wanted to be in the military, always wanted to be in the Marines and always wanted to be the chief of police.”
McNally, 30, of Bedminster, was driving east on I-78 in Berks County, Pa., around 6:30 p.m. Sunday, coming home from weekend duty with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves.
As traffic slowed, he moved to switch lanes and struck a tractor trailer, which caught fire along with his SUV, according to police.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
McNally was a graduate of Morristown High School, where he played football. He received a scholarship to study at Citadel Military Academy in Charleston, South Carolina, his father said.
He served oversees for seven months in Afghanistan, Kevin McNally said.
After returning home, McNally attended and the State Police Academy and graduated in 2014, and was assigned to the Washington barracks in Warren County.
“The men and women of the State Police are devastated by the tragic loss of Trooper McNally,” Colonel Patrick Callahan, acting superintendent of the State Police, said in a statement.
“Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with his family. Brian’s life was a testament to his dedication to service of both state and country.”
McNally’s father said his son knew from an early age that he wanted to spend his life serving his country and community.
At 14, he became EMT with the Morris Minute Men in Morris Township, and a volunteer firefighter at 16.
“Tammy and I are deeply saddened by the death of Trooper Brian McNally, who was killed in an off duty car crash yesterday evening while returning from weekend military service in Pennsylvania,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement Monday.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the McNally family and the New Jersey State Police at this difficult time.”
Kevin McNally said services for his son will likely be scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.
In addition to his father, he leaves behind his mother and a sister.
Editor’s Note: Thank you Trooper McNally for serving the citizens of the United States, New Jersey, and Morris Township with distinction and Pride. Our thoughts are with your family, both blood and blue. Semper Fi.