Wounded State Police trooper, 26, dies
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia State Police Trooper Eric Workman was pronounced dead Friday at CAMC General Hospital. He had been there in a coma and on life support since Tuesday night, when an Oak Hill man shot him and another trooper.
A statement posted on Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's website Friday afternoon confirmed Workman's death.
Workman and Cpl. Marshall Lee Bailey were shot by Luke Baber, 22, of Oak Hill, who pulled a concealed pistol out of his trousers after he had been arrested for reckless driving and handcuffed with his hands in front of him.
Baber was seated in the back of the troopers' cruiser when he pulled the gun and shot Bailey and Workman in the head at the Wallback park and ride near the Clay-Roane county line. Bailey died that evening, and Workman had been in critical condition ever since.
Baber also shot and wounded tow truck driver William Frank Massey, and then fled. Sheriff's deputies from Roane and Clay counties found him hiding near the park and ride and killed him in a shootout. Roane County Deputy John Westfall was wounded in that exchange.
Bailey, 42, was a 17-year veteran of the State Police. Workman, 26, joined the agency in January 2011.
State Police Superintendent Col. C.R. "Jay" Smithers released a statement after Workman's death was announced, thanking everyone for their prayers and support.
"Trooper Workman was an outstanding young man with a promising future. It is unfortunate his life was cut short by this senseless and cowardly act," Smithers said. "Our prayers continue to be with his family and friends. I am overwhelmed by the support the West Virginia State Police family is receiving during this difficult time."
"I met with Trooper Workman's family earlier this week, and I can honestly say without a doubt, West Virginia lost a very brave young man this afternoon," Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said in a statement. "Joanne and I have held this family and the entire West Virginia State Police family in our prayers, and we will continue to pray for them in the days ahead. May God bless the men and women who wear the uniform and whose mission it is to protect us all."
The two troopers will be recognized Saturday at the West Virginia-Marshall football game in Morgantown. During the first timeout, State Police troopers at the stadium will be called onto the field, and a moment of silence will be held for Bailey and Workman.
Before he joined the State Police, Workman was a star baseball player at West Virginia State University and made the All-West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference first team in 2008 and 2009. He was named conference player of the year in 2009. Workman broke numerous school records and ranks first in games played, runs scored, hits, doubles and triples.
"He was determined," WVSU head baseball coach Calvin Bailey said Friday of the star center fielder. "During batting practice, he wouldn't let anyone else be in center field because he wanted to catch every hit ball.
"He would run to left center and dive for the ball and then do it again on the right," Bailey said. "He loved that the most. That was his thing at practice."
Bailey said every year Workman improved and excelled on and off the field.
"He was determined to make himself better. He was very diligent in trying to improve," he said. "He came in an underachiever and left an overachiever."
Workman was always outdoors, Bailey said. "He was the kind of guy that caught the biggest fish, got the best buck during buck season."
Workman was an avid fisherman who was a popular member of the online West Virginia fishing forum www.wvangler.com, where his profile lists his occupation as "fish bum." "He was quite a fisherman," said Gazette-Mail outdoors writer John McCoy, who also is a member of the forum.
Workman loved all types of fishing, but favored muskie, according to his profile and postings. His dream trip was to visit the Broad Back River in Quebec, a renowned muskie site.
Forum members flooded the forum with thoughts and prayers for the trooper upon learning of the shootings.
"I'm sad to have to post this, but Eworkman will no longer be making any posts on Angler. So every time you float the Elk or set high in a stand, think of him, for he is there with you," one member posted.
Above all, Workman was an adventurous type.
"I remember hearing where, one night, he decided to rappel down the side of the dorm, from the eighth floor, I think," Bailey said with a chuckle.
Workman's teammates looked up to him, Bailey said, because of the way he played in practice.
"He was not a rah-rah type of guy," Bailey said. "After a while, the guys weren't in awe of his abilities anymore because they had seen him do just about anything you can do."
During a double-header at State, Workman made a diving catch to win the first game before pitching a shutout in the second one.
"That was an Eric Workman day," the coach said.
Workman, who was a criminal justice major, originally wanted to be a conservation officer, but an internship with the State Police changed his mind, Bailey said.
"He really excelled as a trooper," Bailey said. "He was one of the top cadets at the Academy."
His former coach also said that, as an organ donor, Workman will live on.
"Somebody will be the recipient of some awful good organs," Bailey said.
Staff writers Rusty Marks and Travis Crum contributed to this report.
Reach Kathryn Gregory at email@example.com or 304-348-5119.