Trooper dies after accident

AMSTERDAM A trooper whose patrol vehicle was hit Monday night by a tractor-trailer on the state Thruway near Amsterdam died this afternoon, State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico announced today.

Trooper David W. Cunniff, 35, of Duanesburg, last assigned to Troop T in Fultonville, died at Albany Medical Center.

State police said he succumbed to injuries sustained during a motor vehicle accident on the thruway after 8 p.m. while he was conducting a traffic stop. State police said Cunniff was inside his cruiser while it was parked behind a car pulled off the highway’s right shoulder at Exit 27. The cruiser was struck by a tractor trailer.

Troopers say the tractor-trailer traveling in the right lane left the highway and hit both vehicles, pinning the other motorist’s vehicle under the truck.

Authorities said the driver of the tractor-trailer, Gary Blakley, 65, of Ridgeway, Ontario, was traveling east on the thruway at the time of the accident but was not injured.

The third vehicle, state police said, operated by Eric Heller, 57, of Stoney Creek, also was involved. He was transported to Albany Medical Center for his injuries.

Cunniff was a nine year state police veteran. He worked in Troops B, G and was a member of the then-Executive Services Detail at the State Capitol. He was assigned to Troop T in February of 2009.

The trooper is survived by his wife, Amy, and two sons, 6-year-old Caleb and 4-year-old Zachary.

More on this story will appear in Wednesday’s edition.