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Crash kills Coldenham firefighter

September 18th, 2013

By all accounts, Bob Cruver of Montgomery was a family man with a sense of humor and a heart of gold. In the days since his unexpected death on Sept. 11, it is obvious that his loss has rocked the community.

Cruver, a lifelong member of the Coldenham Fire Department, lived on Browns Road, just a half mile from the fire station. He was less than a quarter mile from his home last Wednesday when an alleged drug-impaired driver slammed into him on State Route 17K and sent him careening into the path of an oncoming bus.

According to police, at about 8 p.m., Cruver was traveling east on the state highway and was slowing to make a left turn onto Browns Road when a Jeep Cherokee driven by Thomas Gabrynowicz, 35, of Newburgh, smashed into him from behind. The impact forced Cruver into the westbound lane, where he was struck head-on by a Coach USA commuter bus.

Cruver’s fellow volunteer firefighters responded to the scene where they attempted to save their fallen brother-in-arms, together with the Montgomery Fire Department, Montgomery Town Police, Town of Montgomery Volunteer Ambulance and Mobile Life. Cruver was transported by Mobile Life to Orange County Regional Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries.

Two of the five people on the bus were also taken to Orange Regional Medical Center, where they were treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released. Gabrynowicz’ vehicle came to rest in the ditch alongside Route 17K and he walked away from the collision without injury.

Gabrynowicz was arrested and the highly traveled state highway was closed throughout the night during the subsequent police investigation and accident reconstruction.

Gabrynowicz was charged with criminally negligent homicide, vehicular manslaughter in the 2nd degree, DWAI (by drugs), DWAI combined influence of drugs and alcohol, operating an unregistered motor vehicle and operation of a motor vehicle by an unlicensed driver. He was remanded to Orange County Jail and arraigned on Sept. 12 in Town Court.

According to police, the investigation into the crash is ongoing.

Meanwhile, the community is rallying around Cruver’s family and the Coldenham Fire Department. A funeral was held on Sunday, Sept. 15 at Goodwill Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, where members of the community, including many in dress uniform, filled the church.

“He was a great guy, a lot of fun to be around,” said Montgomery Town Councilman Dan Dempsey, who served in the Coldenham Fire Department with Cruver for many years. “He had a heart of gold, I’m sure.”

Dempsey said he met Cruver through the fire company and enjoyed his friendship over the years.

“My wife and I were invited to his wedding,” said Dempsey. “Rest assured that Bob was one of the best people I knew all around. He was a lot of fun to be around. He was always playing pranks on people, goofing on people. He was a great family man. What happened to him shouldn’t happen to anybody.”

Cruver was an Army veteran and worked for the New York State Thruway Authority. He leaves behind his wife, Daleann, three sons, Matthew, Scott and Brett; nieces and nephews, Amy, Gina, Nick, Donal, Stephen, Samantha, Alex and Cole; father-in-law and mother-in-law Donal and Dorothy Hyde of Pine Bush; sisters-in-law Donna Henke, Doreen Lynch and Dorothy Hentschel, as well as many aunts and cousins.

The family said in a statement that they are “heartbroken at the loss of our beloved husband and father. Bob Cruver was a man who loved his wife Daleann, three growing boys, his family, his co-workers, fellow firefighters and the community he volunteered to protect. Those of us who were lucky enough to know Bob were charmed by his wit and wonderful sense of humor. We as Bob’s family would like to remind everyone that life is short and should be embraced and valued with their friends, family and loved ones.”

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Walden Savings Bank for the benefit of his sons or the charity of one’s choice.

By RACHEL COLEMAN
rcoleman@tcnewspapers.com

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