PAINTED POST - Trooper Nicholas F. Clark, who was shot and killed in the line of duty July 2, 2018 while responding to a domestic incident on Welch Road, was named First Responder of the Year Tuesday at the Tri County First Responders Honor Park.
The event was held 17 years after hijacked planes crashed into both World Trade Center Towers, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and in a field in Somerset County, Pa. on Sept. 11, 2001.
“This is a natural day to remember and honor a First Responder of The Year,” said Ernie Danforth, event co-chair. “With the events of this past July 2, choosing our recipient as First Responder of the Year was a mere formality. We honored a local hero, Trooper Clark, who made the ultimate sacrifice in an effort to keep the rest of us safe.”
New York State Police Captain George M. DelNagro presented the First Responder of the Year award Tuesday to Clark's family members, his father Tony, and brother Nathan.
On July 2, Clark and other police responded to a call at a home in the Town of Erwin, DelNagro said. During the incident Clark’s first thought was for the safety of all those present including himself.
“He acted professionally and in the finest traditions of a New York State Trooper,” DelNagro said. “But unfortunately Nick lost his life at the hands of a deranged and suicidal individual. Nick put himself in harm's way to protect the innocent. Despite the grand risk he did his duty to help others.”
DelNagro said the New York State Police were “truly blessed” Clark was a state trooper.
"On this day, as we pay tribute to hundreds of first responders that made the ultimate sacrifice 17 years ago responding to lower Manhattan, while also remembering the thousands of people who perished as the result of the terrorist attack," DelNagro said. "It is important to know that the New York State Police never forget its fallen members."
Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, R-Corning, called attending Tuesday's event an "honor and a privilege."
"I think back to Sept. 2001, and all the pictures we saw of people that are running away from danger," Palmesano said. "It was our first responders that ran into the danger to help save lives and protect others from danger."
Palmesano asked the crowd at the event how often do we look for heroes and role models for our youth to look up to?
"All we have to look at are individuals like Trooper Clark and the brave men and women in uniforms," Palmesano said. "Those are our heroes and role models. From the bottom of my heart to the Clark family our thoughts and prayers continue to be with you. Thank you for the service and sacrifice of Nicholas, they will never be forgotten."
Senator Tom O'Mara, R-Big Flats, thanked everyone in the crowd for being at the event.
"This is a day of somberance," O’Mara said. "A day we remember Sept. 11, 2001, our grave responders, and what they did on that day. It's fitting that we remember them, so that those in the future will continue to sacrifice their daily lives to protect all of us in our community."