TOWN OF GLEN -- A six-year veteran of the New York State Police killed in a crash Tuesday morning is being remembered as a hard-working and dedicated law enforcement officer, as well as a husband and a father.
Jeremy J. VanNostrand, 36, of Schenectady County died of injuries he suffered in a 7:45 a.m. crash outside the town of Glen barracks where he was stationed. The crash happened as he waited to turn in to the barracks parking lot to start his shift, state police said.
A native of Mayfield, VanNostrand settled in Schenectady County with his wife and their 6-year-old daughter, troopers said. He joined the state police in December 2012 and initially served elsewhere in the state before he returned to patrol the roads near where he grew up.
Prior to becoming a state trooper, VanNostrand served as a state corrections officer and went to Fulton-Montgomery Community College, where he made an impression on his instructors.
"When he first graduated he wanted to be a corrections officer, and he was good at that," Paul Giudilli, an associate professor of criminal justice at FMCC, recalled of his former student, "and the next thing I knew, the next time I saw him he was in a trooper car. He was always enthusiastic, and wanted to do something better for himself."
Tuesday morning's crash happened as VanNostrand arrived for work in his personal vehicle, a Nissan Altima, state police said. He was stopped in the westbound lane, waiting to turn in to the station when he was rear-ended by a box truck and pushed into the oncoming lane, state police said. VanNostrand's vehicle was then hit by a pickup truck that was headed east.
VanNostrand was taken to Albany Medical Center, where he died of his injuries, state police said.
The driver of the box truck was not injured, state police said. The driver of the pickup truck was taken to St. Mary's Hospital in Amsterdam with injuries believed to be non-life-threatening.
State police identified the box truck driver as Aaron M. Munsie, 32, of Amsterdam, and the pickup truck driver as Robert E. Crews, 52, of Fort Plain.
No tickets had been issued as of Tuesday afternoon.
"We don't know what caused this accident yet," state police Major Robert Patnaude told reporters at a Tuesday afternoon press conference. "Was it speed? Was it driver inattention? Was it a vehicle malfunction? We don't know."
State police, however, later said weather does not appear to have been a factor in the crash. The investigation continued Tuesday afternoon, state police said.
News of VanNostrand's death spread quickly through the law enforcement community. Condolences poured in online from around the region and beyond. Representatives from agencies around the area Tuesday afternoon paid respects to VanNostrand as they escorted his body in a procession back to Schenectady, then hugged each other and grieved.
Patnaude told reporters he didn't know VanNostrand personally, but, from what he's learned, VanNostrand was an "outstanding trooper, a very aggressive, hardworking kid."
VanNostrand was "the kind of trooper we like on the road, and the public should like out there on the road -- out there stopping cars, talking to people, doing excellent investigations, good interdiction work. He'll be sorely missed," Patnaude told reporters.
VanNostrand graduated from the New York State Police academy in May 2013, part of the academy's 199th session. He was previously assigned to Troop F at Middletown and Liberty before moving to the Capital Region troop, Troop G at Granville. His latest assignment was the Fonda barracks, located in Glen.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday directed flags to be flown at half-staff Wednesday in remembrance of VanNostrand.
"The family of New York grieves for Trooper Jeremy VanNostrand," Cuomo said Tuesday in a statement.
Prior to becoming a trooper, VanNostrand served as a state corrections officer for eight years, state police said.
Giudilli taught VanNostrand prior to his corrections officer days and recalled him as one of the most mature students to go through the program.
"He wasn't an 18-year-old student, he was about 20, so he had more little more real world knowledge and when we would talk about something in class he could relate it to a real world experience," Giudilli said.
When he decided to change law enforcement careers, he returned to FMCC, where another of his professors remembered VanNostrand fondly.
That professor, now-Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino, had the opportunity to see the student VanNostrand, but also the trooper -- and the groom. In Giardino's prior position as a judge, he officiated the VanNostrands' wedding.
Giardino recalled hearing from VanNostrand once he received word he'd been accepted as a state trooper.
"He was very happy to have been appointed and he was very proud serve," Giardino recalled.
"He was a very well-liked trooper, very professional," Giardino said.
- Photos: Law enforcement pay respects to Trooper Jeremy VanNostrand in Schenectady, Nov. 27, 2018
- Condolences pour in after Trooper Jeremy VanNostrand's death, Nov. 27, 2018
Because VanNostrand was en route to work when the crash happened, his death is formally considered a line-of-duty death, state police said.
Two other state troopers have died in traffic accidents locally in recent years. Trooper Timothy P. Pratt, 55, of Glens Falls, died Oct. 26, 2016, in Wilton -- also near a state police barracks. Three years earlier, on Dec. 17, 2013,Trooper David Cunniff died when his trooper car was struck by a tractor-trailer during a Thruway traffic stop.
VanNostrand's death also follows others in the state police statewide this year. Trooper Michael J. Anson died from a 9/11-related illness Jan. 2; retired Sgt./SC Charles R. Salaway died June 9, also from a 9/11-related illness, and Trooper Nicholas F. Clark was shot and killed in the line of duty by a suicidal man July 2 in Steuben County.
"Trooper VanNostrand served the people of the state of New York with pride and professionalism. He made the ultimate sacrifice, and he will never be forgotten," said New York State Troopers PBA President Thomas H. Mungeer in a prepared statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and co-workers of Trooper VanNostrand during this difficult time.”
- Trooper Timothy Pratt: Trooper's daughter recalls 'hero of heroes' father at funeral, Oct. 31, 2016
- Trooper David Cunniff: 'Thank you for a job well done,' Dec. 30, 2013
Tuesday afternoon's press conference: