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Trooper remembered by family and friends, honored by Indiana Trooper during calling hours

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Updated: 12/19/2013 10:57 pm

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

On December 19 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., calling hours will be held for State Trooper David Cunniff at Grace Fellowship Church in Latham.

Hundreds of people lined up before calling hours began, including family, friends, men and women in uniform. Although many are mourning Cunniff's death, they are also celebrating 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 say 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."

Cunniff not only touched people in the Capital Region, but always throughout the country. An Indiana State Trooper drove more than 800 miles to show his respect and honor from the Midwest.

Trooper Charles Murphy 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 says that when an officer gives their 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," said Murphy.

A longtime friend of Trooper Cunniff's, Andrea Williams, said 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 said he has been with Grace Fellowship Church for 14 years and grew to become a friend to all here through his laughs and musical talent.

His funeral will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday at the same location as calling hours. 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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