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Funeral Services held for Trooper killed in the line of duty

LATHAM -- A final salute to a trooper who died in the line of duty.  David Cunniff was laid to rest Friday.  His cruiser was struck by a tractor trailer Monday night on the Thruway near Amsterdam while Cunniff was conducting a routine traffic stop.  He later died from his injuries.  Family, friends, and the State Police recalled memories of a good man and dedicated trooper.

The mood was as somber as the sky for David Cunniff's final journey.  He was a nine-year veteran of the State Police force.  In that time, he became a family man and a professional many who knew him looked up to.

"When we do lose that trooper or that member everybody feels that pain," said State Police superintendent Joseph D'Amico.

Anyone familiar with the state police will tell you -- this is a family.  These brothers and sisters take on now in a special way the loved ones David Cunniff leaves behind.  His wife stood tall, her two young sons aged 6 and 4 wearing Stetsons as their father would -- doing the job he was so proud to have.

"He was a hard-working, dedicated trooper," said Troop T commander Major Evelyn Mallard.  "He was a very quiet confident trooper that went out and did an outstanding job and he was well-respected by all the members of the station he worked in."

Among those who admired Cunniff, his partner -- with whom he was tried and tested during long days together at the academy.

"Dave was always happy to show off pictures of his family, his son doing donuts in the yard with his wheelchair, the family on a cruise in a far-away land, or a random sunrise that caught his attention," said Trooper Scott Claus.  "He always had a positive outlook and no matter the situation, if good could be found in it, Dave could find it."

He found joy playing the guitar -- those at his funeral saw him do it one more time on tape from a church service.  His pastor said those who knew Dave smile when they think of his spirit.

"When you'd see him with his kids, it kind-of gives you the encouragement or the resolve to be a better father or parent on your own," said Grace Fellowship Church pastor Tim Owens.

His troop commander wants to carry on his legacy in a similar way.  "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," Major Mallard said.

The loving wife, the little boys still here -- hold on to their faith.  "We talk about this not as saying goodbye forever -- but we all understand and the boys understand they will see their daddy again," Owens said.

The pastor read a letter from Cunniff's wife Amy at the end of the service.  The two were married for fourteen years, and went on their first date in their late teens.  She said her husband flourished as a trooper.  Pastor Owens also said that Mrs. Cunniff has forgiven the truck driver, Gary Blakley.  The investigation in to the crash continues.

The Cunniff family is asking for contributions to be made to the families of spinal muscular atrophy -- the disease which affects one of Tpr. Cunniff's sons.  You can find that information right here on our website.