Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

September 6, 2012

Funeral held for second slain W.Va. trooper

CHARLESTON — One of two West Virginia state troopers killed in the line of duty was remembered at his funeral Wednesday as a hero, a positive influence, a talented athlete and outdoorsman whose life was cut short at age 26 but won’t be forgotten.

Hundreds of law enforcement officers, some from as far away as Alaska and California, were among those attending the service for Trooper Eric Workman at the Charleston Civic Center.

Workman and Cpl. Marshall Bailey were shot Aug. 28 near the Wallback exit of Interstate 79 in Roane County. The gunman was killed in a shootout. A tow truck driver and Roane County sheriff’s deputy were wounded.

Workman was pronounced dead on Friday. His funeral was held three days after Bailey was laid to rest.

“When a young man gives his life protecting us, how can we ever repay the debt?” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin told the crowd Wednesday. “The answer is, we can’t.”

Workman lived in Ivydale and had been with the State Police less than two years. He was an all-state baseball player at Clay County High School in 2004 and went on to play at West Virginia State. He also was a standout prep football and basketball player, and an avid hunter and angler.

Col. Jay Smithers, the state police superintendent, said he learned when Workman was a State Police cadet that he was a talented muskie fisherman. Smithers told the crowd that he wanted to learn how to fish and he planned to ask Workman to be his teacher.

“Unfortunately we never got the chance to muskie fish together,” Smithers said. “However, I’m confident now, as we speak, that Eric is enjoying muskie fishing every day.”

Longtime pastor Mike Long knew Workman most of his life and called him one of the greatest athletes to come out of Clay County. He said Workman taught others how to enjoy the simple things.

“Simple things like a good baseball game,” Long said. “Simple things like a fishing pole, a pickup truck, a good dog, a hunting bow or a good deer rifle. And a good trip down the old Elk River.”

“But today Eric teaches us things that are, I believe, of greater value, that we are to understand today that life is far, far too short to squander or to waste, but to redeem and value. And learn how to live and how to love.”

Other speakers included U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and Cal Bailey, Workman’s head baseball coach at West Virginia State, who was asked to speak for the family.

Smithers and Bailey retold the story about how Workman didn’t follow through on his plans to become a conservation officer because it would interfere with his love for hunting and fishing.

Bailey listed Workman’s accolades as a baseball player that included being named a second-team all-American. When Workman attended the State Police Academy in Institute, he often visited Bailey at the campus a short distance away.

“I never went hunting and fishing with him,” Bailey said, “because I knew he’d beat me.”

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