Photo: New York State Trooper David Cunniff (NYS police)
LATHAM, N.Y. -- State Police say that the funeral service for
State Trooper David Cunniff killed in Monday night's deadly Thruway accident is scheduled for Friday at the Grace
Fellowship Church in Latham.
Calling hours will be held at the church on Thursday, December 19
from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., and the funeral will be held at 11 a.m. on
Friday. He was a very active member at the church, and many who knew
him, shared with NEWS10 ABCwhat a great man he was.
Cunniff's patrol vehicle was parked as he conducted a traffic
stop. His vehicle and the vehicle he had stopped 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 Eric 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.
Kim Zuppardi of Amsterdam said she was driving from her
step-daughter's Christmas concert Monday evening. She was in the car with her
husband and her two young sons and missed that horrific crash by seconds.
Zuppardi said that when she saw the tractor trailer on top of the car,
she knew she needed to stop and she did. Zuppardi and her husband got out and
surveyed the damage. She says she heard Heller screaming for help.
Zuppardi's husband stayed with Heller, which is when she spotted
the State Police cruiser, mangled down the embankment. Zuppardi quickly made
her way to the vehicle and saw Cunniff partially ejected and unconscious, but
Zuppardi and another Trooper tried to get him up out of the snow.
Zuppardi says she'd been a medic in the army for three years but
knew there was little she could do.
"I wish I could have done more," said Zuppardi.
"I'm sorry to the State Troopers for the loss of your brother. I have
friends who are State Troopers. But I want them to know that he wasn't alone. I
think that's important."
Following the death of Trooper David Cunniff, there has been
an outpouring of support and sympathy on Facebook. One woman in particular, was
with the trooper and wants his loved ones to know he wasn't alone following the
It's been just over 24-hours since word first broke that a New
York State Trooper was involved in an accident that claimed his life. His
death has prompted thousands in the Capital Region, and across the country, to
show support for someone considered a true hero.
Trooper David Cunniff loved life, his family, and was a
devoted follower of Christ.
His role at Grace Fellowship in Latham was to play guitar in
the church's worship band, impacting the spirits of all who heard him play.
Dunlap, a friend of
Cunniff's posted on Facebook, "Dave and I would talk often about our careers and things that happened on a
daily basis. I truly love that guy so much. Playing at Grace with him was
On Tuesday night, a Facebook page memorial was published in
Cunniff's honor. Already – it has nearly 6,000 ‘likes'.
People have been encouraged to share memories.
Laura Grapes wrote "We will miss many things about our family friend, especially
his kindness to all he encountered, his laugh, playing his guitar for GF, he
was truly unique, one of a kind."
Zuppardi said "we talked to him, and that's how I found out
he had a couple children."
Friends of the Cunniff family say those children
were the shining stars of his life.
Christa Miller Deno wrote
on the Facebook memorial page, "My favorite memory
of Dave is of him baptizing his son. The joy that filled his face on that day
carries even more meaning today."
An investigation into the crash is ongoing, and police said
Tuesday that weather and alcohol did not appear to be factors and that there
may have been issues with the truck drivers log book.
NEWS10 ABC has also learned that Cunniff was supposed to be on
vacation on Monday, but went in to work to help out.
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