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Troopers travel from out-of-state to honor Cunniff
LATHAM -- Remembering the fallen. Friday troopers from across New York and across the country gathered to honor David Cunniff. As they laid him to rest, those who knew him best said he was proud of his job, his church and his family.
Some came from as far away as California to show Cunniff's family that it is not alone in its pain after this week's Thruway crash. But today, was just as much a remembrance of Cunniff's life as it was the good he did with it.
"We all stick together, help each other out, all for the common good of the people," said Sgt. Brian Vennie of the Pennsylvania State Police Troop R.
When a man is lost, the rest of the family supports each other. This is the State Police family, which after the on-duty death of trooper David Cunniff, reaches across state lines. Vennie responded from the Honesdale area of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
"We take our job seriously, we take protecting the public seriously, and we take injury and death to our fellow law enforcement very seriously," Vennie said.
An estimated 1,000 troopers were here to salute the nine-year veteran, whose cruiser was struck by a truck on a routine traffic stop. Something similar happened recently in West Virginia, bringing Corporal Zachary Nine up north.
"It's very sad for me especially when you come to viewings or funerals like this you get a little glimpse inside of their life with their children or their wife or family," Nine said.
He wanted to present Cunniff's family with the flag which flew over his detachment the day Cunniff's life was taken doing the job to which he gave himself. "Even out on an interstate with 80 mph traffic coming by -- it's not something we think of at the time but it's definitely something we think of afterwards," Nine said.
It's a reminder to troopers that their jobs are, indeed, dangerous. "You get up that morning when you hear about what happened and you know that could be one of you, one of your guys in your station," Vennie said.
The mood for Troop T was as somber as the sky above the church where trooper Cunniff would pray with his family, demonstrate his love for music. His fellow troopers concentrate on the service they perform in their own communities, and carrying on his legacy.
"They lost a brother they lost a family member but sometimes I think that in paying respect to him they're going to go out and work harder just to honor him," said Major Evelyn Mallard, Troop T commander.
Cunniff's wife Amy first started dating when they were teenagers and were married in their early twenties. The church pastor read a letter from her, where she spoke of slow dances they enjoyed, tears they cried, how precious every moment was while David was going through the tough test of academy training nearly a decade ago.
They leave behind two young sons -- both wearing Stetson hats to honor their father.