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NYS trooper killed in three-vehicle Thruway accident

Photo: David Cunniff (NYS Police)
Photo: David Cunniff (NYS Police)
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Updated: 12/17/2013 5:35 pm

AMSTERDAM, N.Y. – A New York State Trooper was killed after being involved in a serious car accident on the Thruway.

State Police responded to a report of a serious personal injury automobile accident around 8:25 p.m. Monday on I-90 eastbound in Amsterdam.

Three vehicles were involved in the accident, including New York State Trooper David Cunniff, according to Superintendent Joseph D' Amico. The 35-year-old was sent to Albany Medical Center and was listed in grave condition after suffering massive head trauma. He later died.

The trooper's patrol vehicle as stopped as Cunniff conducted a traffic stop. He was struck by a tractor trailer driven by 65-year-old Gary Blakley of Ridgeway, Ontario. Blakley was traveling east on I-90 at the time of the accident and was not injured.

Eric Heller, 57, of Stoney Creek, N.Y. was operating the third vehicle involved in the accident. He was transported to Albany Medical Center for his injuries. He is in fair condition.

Police said the trooper was inside his patrol car while it was parked behind a car pulled off the highway near Exit 27. 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.

"It appears that weather was not a factor, nor was alcohol. Our investigation into the cause is continuing. It looks like the tractor trailer might have traveled over from the left lane onto the exit ramp before striking the troop car," said D' Amico.

Traffic on I-90 east was backed up for miles and had to be diverted to a different area.

The left lane of eastbound traffic reopened at 6 a.m. Tuesday, but the right lane remained closed. All westbound lanes remained opened.

Trooper Cunniff is a 9 year verteran of the New York State Police assigned to Troop T Fultonville. Trooper Cunniff is from Duanesburg, and is survived by his wife and two sons. Those that knew him say he was a dedicated, loving father who always put his children first.

The investigation is ongoing.
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