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State Trooper dies after wreck

AMSTERDAM -- A state trooper has died after his patrol car was hit by tractor trailer on I-90 in Amsterdam.

Trooper David Cunniff, 35, of Duanesburg was conducting a traffic stop when the accident happened, shortly after 8 p.m. on Monday. Cunniff was sitting in his car with emergency lights on, when State Police say a tractor trailer hit his car as well as the car he had stopped.

Officials say Gary Blakely, 65, was driving the truck eastbound on the thruway at the time of the accident but wasn't hurt. A third vehicle was also involved. The driver of that car, Eric Heller, 57,  of Stoney Creek was taken to Albany Med and is listed in fair condition.

Blakely of Ontario, Canada, was not injured. State police have already said that neither alcohol nor weather appear to have played a role in the crash but did indicate Blakely had a number of logbook violations, including one within the past week.

The accident bears a resemblance to another tragedy.  In 1985, Trooper Thomas Hudson was assisting a disabled tractor trailer on the Northway in Saratoga when a tractor trailer, also operated by a Canadian driver, crashed into Hudson, killing him and the operator of the disabled vehicle.

Trooper Cunniff never regained consciousness after the crash and was on life support until his family arrived at his side.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation.

Governor Andrew Cuomo released the following statement about Trooper Cunniff:

"It is with a heavy heart that we learn New York State Police Trooper David W. Cunniff has passed away as a result of serious injuries from a vehicle accident while he was on duty last night. I send my deepest condolences to Trooper Cunniff's family and friends during this painful time. Trooper Cunniff was only 35 years old and had already dedicated nine years of service to the State Police. He leaves behind a wife and two young sons who I hope will remember their father as a true hero here in New York. On behalf of all New Yorkers, we are deeply grateful for his service, and his loved ones are in our thoughts and prayers."