CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. – In just one month, two New York State Troopers have been hit while working on the shoulder of local highways.
The first was David Cunniff who died as a result of his injuries following a violent crash on I-90 in December. Then on Tuesday, Trooper Gary Strothenke was hit as he sat in his car on the Northway. He was injured but survived.
Strothenke had pulled over on the Northway to help Adam Geleta of Clifton Park who was changing his girlfriend's tire when the accident happened.
Now, Geleta is hopeful that drivers who don't move over or slow down for stopped vehicles get punished.
"All of a sudden I heard a loud bang, real loud," Geleta said of the crash.
He had been called by his girlfriend for help after her car got a flat tire on the Northway.
"When I pulled up behind her, maybe about 20 minutes after that a Trooper pulled up behind my truck," he explained.
At first it was a normal break down.
"Basically, the Trooper pulled up, turned on his red lights, put some flares out for us to give us some cover, thankfully," he said. "And it just went downhill from there."
Geleta said his girlfriend got in his truck to warm up, and he was about to take off the front passenger side tire when he noticed something was going wrong.
"I heard the bang, and then I heard the tires scratch," he said.
He looked up to see a truck had slammed into the Trooper's car and was now hurdling towards him.
"It slid around my truck, no putting a scratch on it, and was coming right at me," Geleta continued.
He jumped for his life.
"So, basically I went to push off, and when I pushed off, it took the car down into the ditch," he said.
He escaped without injury and ran to check on the Trooper.
"I looked through the window and I said ‘Are you okay, are you okay, are you okay?', and he kind of just looked at me with a blank stare," Geleta said.
Trooper Strothenke was hit by a flatebed tow truck registered to AAA Northway driven by Berakah Smith of Gansevoort.
Geleta, however, said they never called for roadside assistance for the flat tire.
"He had nothing to do with the [flat tire]," he said. "We didn't call anybody."
Geleta said he feels lucky to escape with his life and is hopeful people who don't pull over and slow down get ticketed.
"Especially with the whole recent incident with the other Trooper, Cunniff," he said. "Hopefully they start cracking down on that, making people yield. Cause if you don't, that's what can happen."
Trooper Strothenke and Smith went to the hospital but were released with minor injuries