Trooper Christopher Skinner
Photo credit: New York State Police
CHENANGO BRIDGE, N.Y. (AP) — A pickup truck driver changed lanes and intentionally hit a trooper conducting a traffic stop along a highway on Thursday, killing him instantly, and was charged with murder, police said.
Almond Upton admitted to police that he deliberately swerved his pickup truck from the left passing lane to the right shoulder to hit Trooper Christopher Skinner on Interstate 81 near Binghamton around noon, police Superintendent Joseph A. D'Amico said. Upton, of Melrose, Florida, had sideswiped two other vehicles with his 2014 Toyota Tacoma, D'Amico said.
Upton was taken into custody an hour later after a police dog tracked him into nearby woods, where he was found naked. Police said he didn't appear to be drunk or on drugs.
D'Amico said it was unclear what the motive was for striking the trooper. He said Upton, 60, told police he was driving to Connecticut to visit his mother.
Upton was arraigned on a count of first-degree murder in Town of Chenango Court. It could not immediately be determined if he had a lawyer. He was jailed without bail and couldn't be reached for comment by telephone.
The trooper's killing occurred on I-81 northbound between exits 6 and 7, near the Pennsylvania line. Traffic was detoured onto U.S. Route 11.
Skinner, 42, was from the Sidney barracks in Delaware County and was a 13-year veteran. The Binghamton resident is survived by his fiancee and two children, ages 12 and 15.
In 2011, New York instituted a Move Over law, requiring motorists to slow down and move over when approaching police and emergency vehicles alongside roadways.
Skinner is the second New York state trooper killed in a highway crash in the past six months. Trooper David Cunniff died in December from injuries he suffered when his cruiser was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer shortly after he pulled over a car for speeding on the state Thruway near Amsterdam.
In April, Trooper Todd Madley escaped serious injury after a car sideswiped his cruiser while he wrote a traffic ticket along Interstate 690 near Syracuse. The driver was ticketed for violating the Move Over law.
Skinner is the 15th member of the New York State Police to die in the line of duty since 2006, and his is the fifth line-of-duty death in the last 10 months, said the Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Troopers.
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