Hundreds gather in mourning for trooper killed in accident

Funeral services were held for Trooper Jeremy VanNostrand on Monday at St. Gabriel the Archangel Roman Catholic Church in Schenectady. Shown is his casket being carried as hundreds of state police and officers give a mass salute. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

SCHENECTADY — Family, friends, state troopers, sheriff’s deputies, police officers and first responders all gathered at St. Gabriel’s Archangel Roman Catholic Church on Monday to say their goodbyes and mourn the loss of Trooper Jeremy VanNostrand.

“The loss of Trooper VanNostrand is a terrible event for the New York State Police, it’s a terrible event for the community, especially for his family,” said state police Superintendent George Beach.

Since VanNostrand died in the line-of-duty on Nov. 27, an Inspector’s Funeral was held in his honor.

Hundreds of state troopers from across New York, deputy sheriffs, police officers and members of the fire department all lined up row by row, all standing in tribute to VanNostrand. Also in attendance was Gov. Andrew Cuomo, along with other state officials.

A pipe and drum band played with a procession of state police and officers on motorcycles leading the hearse and family members to the church, with his fellow officers saluting as the herse passed by.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, center, is shown a the funeral services held for Trooper Jeremy VanNostrand on Monday at St. Gabriel the Archangel Roman Catholic Church. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

“What you see in front of you today is a tremendous tribute to his life and to his services as a public servant. He was a tremendous trooper,” Beach said.

VanNostrand graduated from Mayfield Central School in 2000 and went on to attend SUNY Albany, Fulton-Montgomery Community College, Empire State College and the College of St. Rose obtaining two Master’s degrees.

“It was evident at a young age, Jeremy wanted to be in uniform — and he did everything he could to reach his goal to become a New York State Trooper,” Beach said. “Hard-working, aggressive, Jeremy loved making arrests and was passionate about getting impaired drivers off our roads. That is the kind of Trooper you want out patrolling your community.”

VanNostrand entered the state police in December 2012 and served with the state police for six years. He served as a trooper in Troop F at state police Middletown and Liberty, and in Troop G at state police Granville, and his latest assignment, at state police in Fonda.

Prior to serving the state police, VanNostrand served as a corrections officer for eight years with the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

State police Troop G officers head into St. Gabriel the Archangel Roman Catholic Church for the funeral services of Trooper Jeremy VanNostrand held on Monday. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

Beach also announced that the state police would be posthumously promoting VanNostrand to the rank of Sergeant.

Every four years, a promotional test is offered to troopers and VanNostrand recently took the test. He was fourth-in-line to be promoted to sergeant.

“I know this promotion is right — well-deserved, earned by Jeremy himself — and a way to honor him and his commitment to public service,” Beach said.

VanNostrand was traveling to work at the state police barracks in Fonda. He was stopped in the westbound lane of Route 5S waiting to turn into the station in his personal vehicle when he was struck by a box truck and pushed into oncoming traffic. VanNostrand’s vehicle was then hit by a pick-up truck that was traveling eastbound on Route 5S.

“To all of Jeremy’s family, there is little we can say to ease the pain of your loss. I hope you can take comfort in knowing that Jeremy served the people of our state with honor and he will always be remembered by his state police family,” Beach said. “As a police officer, we accept the inherent risks that come with this job. We respond to a call, we make the traffic stop, and sometimes we run toward danger instead of away. But this wasn’t a dangerous call or traffic stop, and Jeremy’s death should hit home for each and every one of us. Each day we wake up, we go to work. That is what Jeremy was doing. Driving into work. Driving in to help, because that is what we do — help, serve, protect the people of New York State. The loss of Jeremy VanNostrand is the loss of a dedicated public servant, a family man, a loyal friend, a great Trooper.”

Hundreds of state police and officers salute as the casket of Trooper Jeremy VanNostrand is carried at the funeral services on Monday. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

The investigation into the accident remains ongoing. So far, weather has been ruled out as a cause of the accident.

“The collision reconstruction unit is doing their job,” said state police Troop G Commander Major Robert E. Patnaude. “We’re getting a search warrant for the vehicles to find out what caused the accident whether it was driver inattention, whether it was a mechanical issue, but we will determine what caused it.”

This has been the fourth trooper death this year.

“This has been a particularly bad year. We continue to lose members to the 9/11 illnesses which is an ongoing tragedy that is going to have to continue to occur that we’re going to have to deal with each passing year,” Beach said.

On Jan. 2, retired Trooper Michael J. Anson died from a 9/11 related illness, on June 9, retired Sgt. Charles R. Salaway died from a 9/11 related illness, and on July 2, Trooper F. Clark was shot and killed in the line-of-duty by a suicidal man.

A pipe and drum band is shown in the procession at the Funeral services held for Trooper Jeremy VanNostrand on Monday at St. Gabriel the Archangel Roman Catholic Church in Schenectady. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

“State police is a very large organization, but it is a family,” Beach said. “Our troops, our zones and our stations, our troopers and supervisors who work together every single day, 24 hours a day, they face the same dangers together, they have become incredibly close together. It has a cumulative effect.”