The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

May 29, 2010

Reporter's Notebook: Photographer greets Hanna as old friend


Daily Star

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Lady Ostapeck, a pictorial portrait photographer, greeted Richard Hanna as an old friend during the congressional candidate's visit to Nader Towers in Oneonta on May 4 when he officially kicked off his campaign.

She prompted the candidate to share personal details about his life, and he seemed pleased to oblige.

Hanna, a Republican from Barneveld who is challenging Rep. Michael Arcuri, D-Utica, acknowledged that at 59 he is a "grand daddy" to his children, Emerson, 3, and Grace, 1½. Hanna said he married late in life because he was busy with business, and he showed off a family photograph. Hanna said the 2008 election campaign was "kind of tough" on his wife, Kim, because she was eight or more months pregnant.

Lady Ostapeck, formerly of Fly Creek, said she'd never forget how his wife had to use her right hand to support her left hand because the diamond on it was so big.

"No comment," Hanna said. Then he smiled. "It's true."

Maj. Kevin Molinari, commander of state police Troop C, said being a state trooper can be "extremely dangerous" in everyday situations that don't involve guns or violence.

While speaking Thursday to the media after Troop C's annual trooper memorial service at Sidney headquarters, Molinari said more troopers killed in the line of duty died as the result of automobile accidents than from gunshots.

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page Inc. website, of 119 trooper deaths in the line of duty, 30 were attributed to automobile accidents and 20 to motorcycle accidents, whereas 26 were from gunshots, including three accidental shootings.

Trooper Jill E. Mattice, a school resource officer stationed at Oneonta, died Jan. 20 in an automobile accident that an investigation found was a result of driver inattention, though an exact cause is unknown.

In responding to media questions about reactions in Troop C, Molinari said Mattice's death probably was the first major loss of a colleague for young troopers at the Oneonta station, and its impact was "up close and personal." Such a loss can reinforce the reality that life as a trooper is both "extremely rewarding" and "extremely dangerous," he said.

"The routine-ness of what troopers do can be fatal," Molinari said. "They have to be constantly vigilant."

Lock is 3 years old and recently completed a 5K run in the Jill E. Mattice HOPE Run in Oneonta.

Lock, a German shepherd, ran with his partner, state police Trooper Bruce Shive of the state police at Marathon in Cortland County, which is part of local Troop C. HOPE stands for "honoring our police everywhere."

In a tradition of naming K-9 units after fallen troopers, Lock was named after Sgt. John H. Lockhart, who only in recent years was recognized as having died in the line of duty.

Lockhart died at the age of 43 on March 3, 1937. He had been a trooper for 17 years, and his death was the result of a head injury caused by a fall.

On Feb. 26, 1937, Lockhart was responding to a burglary call at a local drugstore when he slipped on ice and his head hit the frame on the top of his patrol car, a state police account said.

Lockhart, of state police at Highland, continued to work for two days with extreme headaches before he lost consciousness Feb. 27. He was transported to Kingston Hospital and never regained consciousness.

Lockhart joined the division June 1, 1919, served in troops A and C, and figured prominently in some major investigations during his tenure, the trooper annual report for 2007 said.

Investigator Timothy J. Ruzzo, Lockhart's grandson, researched the omission, according to the report. After 10 years, and with the help of Ulster County Medical Examiner Dr. Walter Dobushak, he found a death certificate for his grandfather marked "on duty."

The documentation led to the 2007 addition of the sergeant's name to the trooper Honor Roll of those who died in the line of duty.

Lock is a living tribute to the fallen trooper.

Staff writer Denise Richardson covers health, business and the colleges.