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Memorial gathering in Hackensack for popular Hasbrouck Heights woman, new crash details emerge

Photo Credit: top
Photo Credit: top
Photo Credit: top
Photo Credit: top
Photo Credit: top

TRIBUTE: A huge gathering in memory of a well-known Hasbrouck Heights woman killed in a crash in Morris County over the weekend is planned for tonight in Hackensack following visitation in her hometown.

Meanwhile, new details of the crash that killed Laura Puglisi, 43, have emerged.

“There are so many people who really care about her. This is a way for us all to honor her memory the way she would have wanted — with pictures and stories and song,” one of the event organizers, Jenny Pena, told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

The gathering at Rebar in Hackensack ( see below ) will follow visitation from 5-8 p.m. at Costa Memorial Home, on Boulevard and Central Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights. Puglisi is being cremated.

“This is a chance to get together so many different people whose lives Laura touched, at a place she loved,” Pena said. “I read some media that made her look like a biker chick, but Laura was so much more than that.

Puglisi (l.) with Pena

“There are her friends from Hasbrouck Heights, the friends she rode with, the people she met at concerts and clubs, her faithful customers over the years, and so many more.”

They include the staff and patrons at the Fountain Spa, where the 1988 Hasbrouck High School graduate worked for 18 years. The spa is collecting money to help Puglisi’s family.

Her boyfriend, Joseph Truncali, as well as Pamela Biss, her best friend “sister” since both woman were 6, have been organizing tomorrow’s events.

They’re collecting a large montage of photos and videos of Puglisi over the years, as well as some of her favorite music — from Anthrax to 80s rock to Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks’ duet, “Stop Dragging My Heart Around.”

“We’ve gotten so much love and support from everywhere. The phone calls, the texts, the emails, the Facebook posts,” Truncali told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “We want this to be a fitting memorial for her.”

They’d begun dating six years ago, and last year Puglisi went with Truncali to Braintree, Massachusetts after he got a job there. She longed for home, however, and returned several months ago.

“She had her job here, her family, her life,” he said. “I’m so glad that she came with me, but this is really where she belonged. I knew that.

“She loved nature and was very active in helping animals and people,” added Truncali, who is taking care of Puglisi’s dog, Ozzy, and her Harley. “She volunteered at animal shelters and was involved in many causes.

“Laura was always upbeat and positive,” he said. “If she saw you in a bad mood, no matter what she was going through, she’d leave you smiling.

“She just loved life.”

Truncali created a roadside memorial at the spot on Route 287 in Montville where Puglisi was killed ( photo, top ). He also posted an online tribute in which he said that she “truly personified the ‘rock on’ mentality we have all come to know and live by.”

Laura Rose Puglisi

Puglisi was riding with a group of friends to the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta on Sunday for the “Rock, Ribs and Ridges Festival,” featuring, among others, George Thorogood and the Destroyers, the Outlaws, and New Riders of the Purple Sage when her bike struck a chunk of rock or asphalt in the roadway.

Two others had swerved to avoid it just before her, witnesses said.

Puglisi was pronounced dead at the scene just after 1 p.m., a little more than 20 minutes after the crash, State Police said.

“I hope her death will be linked with highway maintenance negligence — and hopefully even start a movement to make the roads safer,” Pena told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “The police report said she hit a pothole, but those who were there know better.”

They include a couple of friends who were driving behind Puglisi in a car and witnessed the crash, as well as a rider who had his young daughter with him.

“She was a wonderful person and a shining star to many people,” Pena said. “You can be sure that there will be lot of people coming out tomorrow.”

Visiting hours are set from 5-8 p.m. tomorrow at Costa. The gathering at Rebar begins soon after.

Laura Rose Puglisi

The daughter of Joanne Zecca and James McCarthy and the late Vincent Puglisi, Puglisi is also survived by a brother, Vincent, of East Ruthherford, and a grandfather, Joseph Rosa of Pennsylvania.

In lieu of flowers, Truncali and the family ask that memorial contributions be made to the Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge shelter in Oakland, where Puglisi worked as a volunteer, or to S.T.A.R.T. (Save The Animals Rescue Team) in Little Falls, or to any of your favorite animal organizations.

“We lost a truly beautiful woman but also gained an angel,” Truncali wrote in his tribute. “She will fly at our shoulders to keep us from harm’s way as we ride and journey through our lives.”

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