Slain State Police troopers remembered with bridge naming
CLAY, W.Va. -- The families of two slain West Virginia State Police troopers said the park and ride located near the Clay and Roane county line has become a site of healing.
Cpl. Marshall Bailey and Trooper Eric Workman were fatally shot while performing a routine traffic stop there on Aug. 28, 2012.
The families gathered at the park and ride on Thursday as state officials dedicated the Wallback/Clay exit ramp off Interstate 79, the bridge leading over it and the connecting roadway to the fallen troopers.
Col. C.R. "Jay" Smithers and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin also honored Bailey and Workman with a posthumous award, the State Police Cross, which was given to their families.
Bailey's brother, Justin, spoke at the ceremony and said his family is supporting each other as they mourn. The park and ride would always remind them to be thankful for the dedication of all law enforcement officers, he said. Bailey had been a member of the Clay County detachment for 17 years.
"It's only fitting that Marshall's name will forever be here in the community that he lived, loved and protected -- the people that he gave his life for," Justin Bailey said. "I know there will always be a special place in my heart for the people of Clay County and I know Marshall was proud to be one of them."
Rebecca King, Workman's sister, read a poem about heaven titled "Beyond." The poem is special to her and her family.
"Beyond the troubles we have faced, past the worries we have had and further than the eye can see, the land of hope will forever be," King said.
Smithers said Workman and Bailey's memory would never be forgotten. Their photos will hang permanently inside the State Police's Hall of Honor, he said.
"Each day, myself and many others working or visiting department headquarters pass through our Hall of Honor where Marshall and Eric's portraits are prominently displayed," Smithers said. "It serves as a constant reminder to all that pass through that justice in a civil society often comes at an enormous price."
State Police Chaplain Cpl. Jim Mitchell said the families' faith in God has provided them with the same strength and courage that guided Bailey and Workman, he said.
The two troopers were fatally 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 cuffed with his hands in front of him. Baber was seated in the back seat of the troopers' cruiser at the Wallback park and ride.
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.
Westfall and Massey were also at Thursday's naming ceremony. Massey said after the ceremony that he has become closer to both families since the tragedy.
"We will always remember that we lost two great men," Massey said. "More importantly than that we will remember that two families lost sons, a father, a grandfather and brothers."
Massey said it took two months after the shooting to return to work. He's still recovering from the gunshot wound, he said.
The ceremony ended with family members laying wreaths at the community memorial at the Interstate 79 underpass. People had left flowers, flags and wrote memorial messages on the underpass pillars following the shooting. The Division of Highways sealed the pillars with a protective sealant, making it permanent.
Workman, 26, of Ivydale, had been a trooper for less than a year before the fatal shooting. He'd been an accomplished fisherman and baseball player for West Virginia State University. Bailey, 42, of Poca, had two children and one grandson. Bailey loved to hunt and fish and always wanted to be a police officer.
Reach Travis Crum at email@example.com or 304-348-5163.