Funeral services held for fallen trooper

LATHAM, N.Y. – The funeral services for New York State Trooper
David Cunniff who died following a Monday night car accident on the Thruway
were held Friday morning.

The service began at 11 a.m. at Grace Fellowship Church, where
Cunniff was a member and a guitar player in the worship band.

The family stood outside the church as Trooper Cunniff's body
arrived at the church Friday morning, his two sons wearing Stetsons to honor
their fallen hero. New York State police and other law enforcement agencies
stood in formation as the funeral began. Governor Cuomo also arrived, standing
in the front row with state police from Troop T, where Trooper Cunniff was

State Police said up to 1,500 troopers from New York and across
the country –as far as California and Washington State — came to pay their
final respects.

Trooper Andrew Matthews with the Connecticut State Police said “We
are a family so it affects all of us. We are all doing a dangerous job. We
should all come together and support one another. “

Trooper Matthews was one of many who came to Latham to
pay respects as Trooper Cunniff was laid to rest on Friday.

“As far as the family is concerned this is an accident. They
want the truck driver and other victim of the accident to understand that this
was an accident as far as they see. The only thing they want everyone involved
is for everyone to move forward with the family and heal together,” said
the church's pastor, Tim Owens.

Cunniff's wife, Amy, explained in a letter that was read aloud
that when they found out their oldest son Caleb had a rare disorder called
Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Cunniff became determined to help find a cure. So far,
the family has helped to raise $52,000.

The burial immediately followed the service, his final resting
place at the Memory Gardens Cemetery in Colonie.

Cunniff, 35, was a 9-year-veteran of the New York State Police.

Cunniff's patrol car was parked as he conducted a traffic stop
December 16 on the Thruway. His vehicle and the car driven by Eric Heller were
struck by a tractor trailer driven by 65-year-old Gary Blakley of Ridgeway,

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 and partially ejected him from the vehicle. The tractor trailer
continued on and struck Heller's car trapping Heller in his vehicle. Heller 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 said alcohol and weather did not factor into the crash.

Hundreds of people, including family, friends and men and women in
uniform, attended Cunniff's calling hours on Thursday to not only mourn his
passing but to celebrate his life.

Sgt. Brian Zennie of Pennsylvania State Police said,
“It's a reality that sets in for all of us. You get up that morning and
you know that could be you one of your guys at your station at any given

Cunniff is survived by his wife and two children. A fund has been
set up to benefit the family. Include “The Family of David Cunniff”
in the donation submission, here


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