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Trooper's legacy will live on, mourners told

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia State Police Trooper Eric Workman's lungs saved a Pittsburgh man's life and enzymes from his liver helped two Charleston residents have successful transplants, his former baseball coach said Wednesday.

Workman, a Clay County trooper, wanted to be an organ donor to give others a chance to live, his family said. Police said doctors from across the country are waiting to receive his organs to perform 40 different life-saving transplants.

More than 2,000 people gathered at the Charleston Civic Center to celebrate Workman's life and mourn his untimely death -- the second memorial held at the civic center to honor a fallen trooper in four days. Workman, 26, of Ivydale, was removed from life support at a Charleston hospital Friday after succumbing to gunshot wounds he received last week.

The past nine days have been some of the darkest in the State Police's 93-year history, Superintendent Col. Jay Smithers said during the service.

The service followed Sunday's for Clay County Trooper Cpl. Marshall Bailey. A suspect shot both troopers as they conducted a routine traffic stop in an area along the Clay and Roane county border on the night of Aug. 28.

The suspect, Luke Silas Baber, 22, of Oak Hill, was killed in a shootout with four sheriff's deputies from Clay and Roane counties later that night. 

Coach Cal Bailey, Workman's former baseball coach at West Virginia State University, spoke on the family's behalf.

He said the family is grateful for the support from the community and prayers they've received since the tragedy.

Bailey said Workman was a celebrated baseball player and had rejected a future in sports to serve his state as a trooper. His decision to become an organ donor was just another example of "what a fine young man he was."

He recalled the first time he met Workman and the years that he watched him progress into an outstanding player. Workman, he said, eventually channeled a passion and determination for sports to a career in law enforcement.

Christopher Cole, one of Workman's friends, also spoke during the ceremony and fought back tears while reading a statement. 

"At one time I thought I wanted to be a State Police trooper because I saw how much Eric loved it," Cole said. "Now I don't know what I want to be when I grow up, but I know I want to be like Eric."

Workman graduated from the State Police Academy in August 2011. He initially wanted to be an officer with the Division of Natural Resources but opted instead to become a trooper.

Many spoke during the service about Workman's love for the outdoors. Charleston Pastor Mike Long, of Springfork Missionary Baptist, and State Police Chaplain Cpl. Jim Mitchell each shared stories of Workman's famed deer kills and big fishing hauls.

Col. Smithers said he met Workman last year when Workman was a cadet in the academy after hearing about his skills in fishing for muskellunge.

Smithers said he'd hoped Workman would teach him how to fish like that on the Elk River.

"Unfortunately I'll never get that chance," Smithers said solemnly. "But I have no doubt Eric is now somewhere fishing for muskie every single day."

Bagpipers from Pittsburgh played a funeral march as troopers presented a folded American flag to Workman's parents. The troopers then carried his casket to a hearse nearby and a funeral procession of about 50 police cruisers, ambulances and fire trucks escorted him to his final resting place in Clay County.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.

 


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