BELLE, W.Va. — Tom and Gloria Craigo chose the West Virginia fire station where he was a volunteer firefighter for their wedding ceremony.
Three months later, Gloria Craigo is a widow. On Tuesday, she said her final goodbyes to her husband, killed when his firetruck slammed into a rock wall while responding to a fatal accident on a West Virginia interstate.
Hundreds of firefighters and first responders, some from as far away as Seattle, attended Pratt volunteer fire Lt. Tom Craigo’s funeral.
Firefighters comforted Gloria Craigo as her husband’s flag-draped casket was loaded onto a Pratt firetruck for the ride to a cemetery in Montgomery. Bagpipes played “Amazing Grace” in the background and a helicopter conducted a flyover.
In a high school gymnasium earlier, speakers eulogized Craigo as a talkative jokester who was considerate, full of life and dedicated to his vocation.
“He always smiled. He was always in a good mood,” Rob Johnson, Pratt’s deputy fire chief, said before provoking a brief chuckle from the audience. “Don’t get me wrong. He was full of crap like the rest of us.”
Tom Craigo was a voluntary firefighter for 15 years at four departments and simultaneously worked as a supervisor with a wrecker service in Handley for 16 years.
The accident also claimed another newlywed. Assistant Chief Michael Edwards, 46, married longtime girlfriend ReRe Snodgrass Bradshaw on March 17. Two days later, he posted a photo with his bride holding a “we eloped” sign and the message “I became Luckiest man in the world” on his Facebook page.
On March 24, Edwards also was gone. His funeral was held Saturday.
Craigo, 40, and Edwards were among five firefighters responding to a fatal accident on the West Virginia Turnpike in which three people died. Three other firefighters on the truck were injured.
Craigo “left doing what he wanted to do — this was his life,” Johnson said.
The Rev. James R. Baldwin, who presided at Craigo’s wedding and funeral, said Craigo “spent more time on the West Virginia Turnpike than most people” because of his wrecker service and firefighting roles.
“They died (for) a cause they believed in and they faced every time they went out,” Baldwin said. “Those men knew that accident could happen at any time. Today I say to the fire department, go on. Go on. By doing so, you support your fallen brother. You let people know that they didn’t die in vain.”
Robert Goodyear quietly listened to the speakers from the gymnasium seats at Riverside High School. He was friends with Craigo from his years at the wrecker service.
“Oh, my grace, he was just a good-hearted guy,” Goodyear said. “Would do anything — even if he didn’t know you. But if he knew you, he would go out of his way to help you. I don’t believe he ever met a stranger because I know he never quit talking.”