Funerals set for 2 West Virginia firefighters; 2 others still in intensive care

Two firefighters killed while responding to a triple-fatality highway crash in West Virginia late last week were honored Tuesday ahead of their funerals, while two other firefighters remained hospitalized.

Assistant fire Chief Michael Edwards, 46, and Lt. Thomas Craigo, 40, were honored by more than 50 people from across Kanawha County at a wreath-laying ceremony outside the Pratt Volunteer Fire Department building, West Virginia MetroNews reported.

“This is a brotherhood,” Pratt Deputy Fire Chief Rod Johnson told the paper.

The men were honored with a black wreath placed in front of the building and a metal sign in the shape of an American flag that read: “In Honor of Our Fallen Heroes,” according to MetroNews. The families of Edwards and Craigo were each given similar signs designed by a Pratt resident.

The funeral services for Craigo, a 15-year member of the department, will be held at 2 p.m. April 3, with visitation taking place 6 to 9 p.m. April 2, the West Virginia State Fire Marshal said Tuesday. Arrangements for Edwards, who had given 25 years of service, have not been announced yet.

Johnson said both men had recently gotten married, including Edwards about a week ago. Edwards and Craigo also have children, the Gazette-Mail reported.

Two of the firefighters who suffered injuries in the crash remained in the intensive care unit at Charleston Area Medical Center, Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper told the Charleston Gazette-Mail Tuesday.

Pratt Volunteer Fire Department Chief Timmy Walker remained in critical condition, while firefighter Billy Hypes’ condition was stable, Carper said. Firefighter Kyle Jenkins, 17, was treated for a broken arm and released, Fox 11 reported.

Johnson had told the paper Monday that the two firefighters’ families had seen some improvement in their conditions.

The five members of the Pratt Volunteer Fire Department were heading toward a wreck on the West Virginia Turnpike that killed three people when their fire truck careened off a road and into a ditch, striking a rock wall.

The cause of the fire truck crash remains under investigation.

As for the separate crash that killed three people, state police spokesman Capt. Reggie Patterson said in a release that a car driven by Beatrice Patrick, 77, of Salyersville, Ky., was going the wrong way in the southbound lanes when it struck another car head-on. The second car then ran off the road and struck a disabled box truck. Patrick was killed, WCHS-TV reported.

Patterson said the driver of the second car, James W. Platte, 49, of Westphalia, Mich., and his wife, Tonya Platte, 38, were killed. Box truck driver Jordan Napoleon, 40, of Greer, S.C., was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

The cause of the fire truck crash remains under investigation.