The West Virginia State Police remembered two officers Thursday who died in the line of duty just over a year ago. Thanks to House Concurrent Resolution 17 from this past legislative session, a stretch of roadway, a bridge and an interchange were named after the fallen troopers during a memorial near the site of the incident that took their lives.
A patch of pavement along Route 36 just inside the Roane County line served to be the place where Cpl. Marshall Lee Bailey took his last breath. It was also where Trooper Eric Workman sustained fatal injuries.
Bailey was killed in the line of duty during a traffic stop on August 28 of last year.
Luke Baber of Oak Hill had been detained for reckless driving in a stolen vehicle but, while seated in the back of the cruiser, he accessed a concealed handgun and fired on Bailey and Workman. Bailey was pronounced dead on the scene.
Roane County Sheriff's Deputy John Westfall and dispatched tow truck driver Frank Massey were wounded by Baber as a shootout took place.
Baber was killed in the shootout and Workman died three days later from injuries sustained in the incident.
A year later, families and friends continue to grieve but, as State Police Superintendent Col. “Jay” Smithers put it, all the thoughts and prayers reinforce the bond between West Virginians and fellow law enforcement officers.
“We’ve seen it time and time again: West Virginians are always willing to step up to the plate and lend a willing hand when there is a need,” said Smithers.
“But, in this instance, folks from far beyond the borders of West Virginia provided comforting word and condolences as well and we thank them for their genuine concern,” he added.
Many police officers from out of state attended Bailey and Workman’s funerals.
Workman's sister Rebecca and Bailey’s brother Justin also spoke during the ceremony. Bailey fought back tears as he explained the need to celebrate law enforcement officers before it’s too late.
“I wish I could say that our family was back to normal. But, I know that will never be the case. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about Marshall,” Bailey said.
“In a way, it’s a shame that it takes a tragedy like this to recognize our law enforcement community. They put their lives on the line everyday for our safety and at any minute tragedy can strike."
Families of both fallen troopers were presented with the State Police Cross by Col. Smithers and Gov. Tomblin to symbolize the officers’ sacrifice in the line of duty. Both families also were given signs marking the memorial bridge.
The interchange at I-79’s Exit 34, the bridges at the interchange, and both lanes along a stretch of Route 36 were all dedicated to Bailey and Workman.