A final tribute to a fallen comrade: Nearly 1500 law enforcement officers from as far away as California gathered at the Grace Fellowship Church in Latham friday morning.
35-year old Trooper David Cunniff of Duanesburg died Tuesday from injuries suffered in a crash Monday night at Thruway exit 27 in Amsterdam. He had pulled a car over for speeding. As he was sitting in his police cruiser, it was struck by a tractor-trailer, sent 50 yards into an embankment. Cunniff suffered massive head injuries. State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico: "Whether it's blue or gray or green we all have that same tough job. It's a dangerous job to be a police officer, and I think the death of Trooper David Cuniff just underscores the risks that are out there for them everyday, whether you're responding to a job or you're chasing a criminal or in this case something that we do so routinely everyday, like vehicle and traffic law. you just never know where the dangers are."
Cunniff was working on what was supposed to have been a vacation day. His commanding officer at Troop T is Major Evelyn Mallard: "Trooper Cunniff has been with the state police for nine years. He was a very hard-working dedicated trooper. He was a very quiet, confident trooper that went out and did an outstanding job and he was well-respected by all of the members of the station that he worked in."
Corporal Zachary Nine with the West Virginia State Police explains why he made he trip to Latham for the service. "We recently, about a year, little over a year ago had a tragedy with our department, two of our troopers were killed in a traffic stop. We seen the great outpouring from the rest of the state agencies throughout the United States for the law enforcement brotherhood. Anytime we have the opportunity it's our honor to come to places like this."
Cunniff is survived by his wife and two young sons. Tim Owens is Pastor of Discipleship at Grace Fellowship - Trooper Cunniff was a member of Owens' "worship team." He has known Cunniff for about three years and was with the troopers wife Amy when Cunniff died. “Amy looked me in the eyes. She wanted to communicate that as far as the family is concerned, this was an accident. They want the truck driver and they want the other victim at the accident to understand that this was an accident, as far as they see, and the only thing they want for everyone involved is for them to move forward with the family in healing together.”
Charges are pending against the trucker, identified as Gary Blakeley of Ontario: the Canadian has been ordered not to leave the United States. The driver of the car stopped by Trooper Cunniff is hospitalized, but expected to recover.