On May 31, 1999, Tagliareni suffered a massive heart attack while responding to a car fire on the New Jersey Turnpike. Before he lost consciousness, Tagliareni pulled the fire truck he was driving to the side of the road, where his fellow firefighters performed CPR. Although emergency room doctors were able to stabilize him, Tagliareni remained in a coma for 13 days before passing away on June 13, 1999 at the age of 34. He was honored on June 17, 1999 with a full fire inspector’s funeral at the Immaculate Conception Church in Secaucus.
The Town of Secaucus, his family and friends consider Tagliareni a hero because he had the presence of mind to stop the fire truck before he lost consciousness, preventing the truck from plummeting off the Paterson Plank Road bridge into oncoming traffic on Route 3. For this last heroic act, Tagliareni was awarded the William “Bo” Koenemund Award and honored in a ceremony by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in October 2000 in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
Joseph Francis Tagliareni, Jr. was born on March 18, 1965 in Jersey City, New Jersey. He grew up in North Bergen before moving to Secaucus in 1978. Tagliareni was a graduate of Secaucus High School where he played baseball and football. Directly after high school Tagliareni joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, and was stationed in Parris Island, South Carolina. He was also a member of the Secaucus Fire Department, Engine 2 Hose Company No.1 and served as a firefighter for over 16 years. In 1994, his dream became a reality when he became the owner/operator of J. Taglia Trucking, Inc., a Secaucus-based trucking company.
Tagliareni is remembered by his community as a kind, respected, and giving man, and by his family as a cherished husband, brother, son, and most especially, a loving father.