WALLBACK, W.Va. — A makeshift memorial still stands under the overpass at the Wallback exit of I-79 in Roane County. Flowers and other items are piled high and on the columns of the bridge are pasted the pictures of two West Virginia State Troopers.
The memorial remains a year after Corporal Marshall Bailey and Trooper Eric Workman were shot near the spot after pulling over a suspect for DUI a year ago Wednesday.
Luke Baber of Nicholas County was arrested by Workman and Bailey and placed in the backseat of the cruiser, his hands cuffed in front of him. While Bailey and Workman sat in the front seat, Baber pulled a pistol the troopers had missed when he was searched and shot both of them. Bailey died instantly. Workman died later at CAMC.
Baber took one of the troopers’ sidearm and opened fire on the tow truck driver who was wounded, but managed to call 911. Deputies from Roane and Clay counties quickly arrived and engaged in a gun battle with Baber. One deputy was wounded, but Baber was fatally shot.
The grief among the families of the men and those who knew them remains raw even today.
“This is still very emotional for everybody,” said State Police Spokesman Mike Baylous. “Even today, a lot of people are still trying to get past the grieving process.”
Because the tragedy is still an open wound for the State Police, the agency was very low-key about any public acknowledgement of the anniversary. A more public remembrance is expected next month when the overpass at the Wallback exit in Roane County is officially rededicated in honor of the two slain troopers.