Calling hours held for NYS trooper killed in Thruway accident

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LATHAM,
N.Y. — Calling hours for a NYS trooper killed in Monday night's deadly Thruway accident were held Thursday in Latham.

The
calling hours for State Trooper David Cunniff were held from 3 to 8 p.m. at
Grace Fellowship Church in Latham.

Hundreds
of people lined up before calling hours began, including family, friends and men
and women in uniform. Although many mourned Cunniff's death, they also celebrated
his life.

Cunniff
impacted the lives of many through his service with the State Police and his
role in the Grace Fellowship worship band.

People
who knew him, even for only a short period of time, said he was the man many
men wanted to be.

Connie
Cutler knew Cunniff when he was being home schooled. She described him as
“thoughtful, other-centered.”

“He
was a model man and citizen, and father and friend, and husband, awesome guy,”
she said.

Cunniff
not only touched people in the Capital Region but also throughout the country. Indiana
State Trooper Charles Murphy drove more than 800 miles to show his respect and
honor.

He
said, “When an officer is lost in the line of duty, it is a very big void
that takes place. Law enforcement community is a very strong brotherhood. It's
very important to honor somebody for their sacrifice.”

Murphy
said that when an officer gives his life in the line of duty, it's a reminder
to others of the risks they take and to value the moments they might never get
back.

“When
an officer gives their life, it brings things into perspective for every
officer because that could have been them,” he said.

Andrea
Williams was a long-time friend of Trooper Cunniff. She described the father
and husband as “an outstanding man.”

“He
was a man of God, a wonderful husband, an attentive and very loving father,”
she continued.

She
said he had been with Grace Fellowship Church for 14 years and grew to become a
friend to all there through his laughs and musical talent.

His
funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the church. He was a very active
member at the church, and many who knew him, shared with NEWS10 ABC what a great man he was.

Cunniff's
patrol vehicle was parked as he conducted a traffic stop. His vehicle and a
vehicle driven by Eric Heller were struck by a tractor trailer driven by
65-year-old Gary Blakley of Ridgeway, Ontario.

The
tractor trailer was travelling in the right lane, left the roadway, and hit
both cars. The impact forced Trooper Cunniff's car off the right shoulder,
partially ejecting him from the vehicle. The tractor trailer continued on,
striking Heller's car, trapping him in his vehicle. He had to be extricated by
the Amsterdam Fire Department.

Heller,
57, of Stoney Creek, was transported to Albany Medical Center for his injuries.
He is in fair condition. Cunniff was taken to Albany Medical Center, where he
later died. Blakley was not injured in the crash.

Blakley
will likely face charges for having an out of date log book and could possibly
be charged under the state's “Move Over” Law.

Police
have said alcohol and weather condition did not factor into the crash.

A
fund has been set up to benefit the family, donate online here. Please
include in donation submission that it is for “The Family of David
Cunniff.”

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