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Car crashes kill two troopers—father and son

The irony of lives unfolding can leave us at a loss for words.

A few years ago while talking to my late, good friend, New York State Police Investigator Doug Muldoon, I happened to mention covering the story for the Enterprise about the death of Trooper Charles Perkins in a car crash. It happened right in front of where we live today on Route 86, just past Donnelly’s farm.

Doug replied, “Yeah, and his son, a state trooper, was killed by a car at a stock car race.”

Hard to believe, and the story would have been left at that. But last week after Evelyn Martelle gave me boxes of old newspapers, one clipping almost fell into my hands, and it was the Enterprise story I had written about Charles Perkins, the father.

A trooper’s annual salary in 1967 was about $7,000. One thousand dollars in 1967 would equal the purchasing power today of about $7,000.

Trooper Perkins’ wife, Carol LaTour Perkins, was pregnant at the time he was killed. Turned out to be a boy, who became a New York state trooper.

So I turn to another good friend, Sean Donovan, a retired sergeant from New York State Police who researched the story of Trooper Charles Perkins, the younger.

Donovan tells the rest of that terrible story:

“Yes, young Perkins was born after his dad’s death, and he was a great trooper. He also had his dad’s shield. I knew him. He was actually off duty, working as a volunteer EMT at Lebanon Valley Race Track in New Lebanon, NY, Columbia County.

“A driver had been injured in a crash, and Charlie immediately went to his aid. While doing so, he was hit by another race car and killed. He was assigned to Troop G, Loudonville, where he had just been appointed public information officer.

Maj. Harold T. Muller, New York State Police Troop B commander, presents Carol Perkins and her daughter Janine with a special commendation; Saranac Lake Mayor Howard Riley presents a check for $1,152. The Enterprise, with reporter Riley, spearheaded the fund drive after an anonymous Lake Placid resident started it all. Troop B Zone Sgt. William Shurter read a special tribute, and Trooper William A. Thompson (not pictured) was there representing the State Police PBA. Hal Otley had written the story and explained that the tension of not knowing what to say was lifted when little Janine said, “My mommy has a big belly; she can’t do much.” (Provided photo — Hal Otley)

“Because he was not officially on duty, Charlie’s own family, a wife and daughter, were not covered as if it was a line-of-duty death. I know there is a program now that covers volunteer firefighters and such, but I don’t believe it covers as much as the police one does.

“Nonetheless, Charlie was accorded a trooper’s funeral. I went, as did hundreds of others. It was in the Kinderhook area, but some time later he was reinterred and now lies next to his dad.

“This was in 1998 when he was 30 years old.”

Sean added:

“Charlie also played for the NYSP hockey team, good player and a popular guy. The police hockey tournament was held last weekend. There is a perennial trophy, like the Stanley Cup, that stays here and each year the winning team’s name is engraved on the cup. In 1999 we named the trophy the Perkins Cup, which is engraved on the top of the chalice.

“In 2020 our tournament will be celebrating its 25th anniversary.”