Exit 16 bridge named for Trooper killed in accident

Originally published in Saratogian on July 25, 2017

WILTON, N.Y. >> A span over the Northway at Exit 16 will be named for Trooper Timothy Pratt who was killed last fall in a tragic accident on Ballard Road.

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday signed legislation designating the New York State Trooper Timothy Pratt Memorial Bridge.

Bills calling for the bridge’s naming were introduced in the Legislature by Assemblywoman Carrier Woerner, D-Round Lake, and Sen. Kathleen Marchione, R-Halfmoon.

“Tim was a dedicated public servant, dedicated to his community, job and family,” said Major Robert Patnaude, Troop G commander. “We’re happy that officials saw fit to take this step so the public will always see his name there and that troopers who worked with him will always be reminded.”

Plans are in the works for a dedication ceremony in the near future.

“Trooper Timothy Pratt dedicated his life to serving and protecting the people of New York state, and his biggest impact was right here in our local community,” Woerner said. “Trooper Pratt’s commitment to the safety of all will never be forgotten.”

“Trooper Timothy Pratt was the very definition of a public servant, faithfully serving and protecting, putting the needs of his community first, always going above and beyond the call of duty to help others,” Marchione said. “We continue to mourn the loss of this great man who was one of New York’s finest. The New York State Trooper Timothy Pratt Memorial Bridge will stand as a testament to Trooper Pratt’s proud legacy of service to his community and to all New Yorkers.”

Pratt, 55, a nearly 30-year state police veteran, was killed last Oct. 26 when he was struck by a passing vehicle while assisting a stopped truck driver on Ballard Road, almost directly in front of the Wilton state police station.

After serving in the U.S. Air Force from 1979 to 1986, Pratt became a trooper on March 30, 1987, and spent his entire career with Latham-based Troop G. He was assigned to the Traffic Incident Management unit at the Wilton state station.

He was also a Motorcycle Unit member and lead the 9/11 Memorial Motorcycle Ride from Albany to New York City.

Pratt was not only a respected trooper, but a well-liked personality in the community. He helped out with various activities such as the annual South High Marathon Dance, where he provided volunteer security duties for many years. He graduated from South Glens Falls High School in 1979.

This year’s Marathon Dance was held in his honor and a portion of proceeds raised by the dance went to Pratt’s sister, Mary Belair, who has multiple sclerosis.

This was one of many tributes paid to Pratt in the months following his passing.

In December, the 2016 U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Dunkin’ Donuts Toys for Tots Train was dedicated to Pratt during its stop at the Saratoga Springs train station.

On April 26, six months to the day of his passing, Pratt was honored at the state Capitol in Albany.

During that event, state Senator Betty Little, R-Glens Falls, said, “Trooper Tim Pratt was larger than life. He made a significant difference (in the lives of) everyone around him.”

In June, Pratt was remembered during opening ceremonies for the New York State Special Olympics Summer Games at Siena College. Patnaude presented an honorary medal to Pratt’s fiancée, Sue Clark, on behalf of the International Law Enforcement Torch Run Council for Pratt’s service to Special Olympics New York.

“Tim had been involved in Special Olympics since the early 1990s and over the years really took on a leadership role within the Law Enforcement Torch Run initiative,” Patnaude said. “He did everything, from serving customers at Cops and Lobsters to leading multiple Torch Runs on his infamous motorcycle. He was a great man who loved helping others and did so with a huge heart and smile.”

The bridge at Exit 16 is on Ballard Road, County Highway 33.

“Trooper Timothy Pratt’s devotion to the state of New York and the values of the state police were unmistakable throughout his nearly 30 years of service,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This action will help ensure his memory and service to his community will continue to be remembered, and I once again offer my deepest condolences to Trooper Pratt’s loved ones and fellow members of the New York State Police.”