QUINCY, W.Va. — On a bright sunny afternoon in eastern Kanawha County a large crowd, made up mostly of first responders, said goodbye to one of their own.
Pratt Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Mike Edwards, 46, a 25-year veteran of the small VFD, died a week ago in a fire truck wreck on Paint Creek Road. He was honored in a Saturday afternoon funeral at Riverside High School.
Edwards and Lt. Tom Craigo were killed in the crash that came as they were responding, along with three other firefighters, to a deadly wrongway crash on the West Virginia Turnpike. Their pumper truck got into a roadside ditch and never came out, banging against a jagged rocky hillside for several feet.
Speakers Saturday included members of Edwards’ family along with Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper and Pratt Deputy Chief Rod Johnson. Edwards’ flag-draped casket was in front of the large crowd in the Riverside gym.
Following the funeral, a procession of dozens of emergency vehicles escorted the body back across the Kanawha River, up state Route 61, passing the Pratt Fire Station on its way to Montgomery. It took more than an hour to travel the less than 15 miles to Pratt. The procession passed under two crossed ladder trucks with an American flag at the mouth of Paint Creek Road just a few miles from where the crash occurred.
Kanawha County Fire Coordinator C.W. Sigman expressed thanks to firefighters from South Chas., Jackson and Logan counties for helping to cover Kanawha County during the service.
Visitation services for Craigo are set for Monday night at the school followed by a Tuesday afternoon funeral.
Pratt Fire Chief Tim Walker and firefighter Billy Hypes remain hospitalized a week after the crash. Firefighter Kyle Jenkins is recovering at home.