HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Hanover County community paid tribute to a fallen firefighter, Lt. Brad Clark, who was killed in the line of duty last week.
On Wednesday, thousands from across the country gathered for a memorial service to say goodbye to the fallen hero who died after a tractor-trailer plowed into the back of his fire engine while responding to a crash on I-295.
Clark’s father, Bob Clark, honored his son’s memory at the ceremony by speaking about Lt. Clark’s bravery and the example he set for others.
“Our hearts are heavy and broken,” Clark said, “but we are survivors. It’s gonna take time but everything you all have done will begin this healing process.”
People who attended the ceremony quickly learned that Lt. Clark was a hero until the very end.
On the night he was killed, Lt. Clark reportedly shouted out a warning call to the other firefighters at the scene before the crash occurred. Lt. Clark’s warning saved the other firefighters at the scene.
“He screamed a warning of the impending crash. By all accounts, he saved Carter, Dave and Chris’ lives. He defined bravery from the moment he signed that paper until his final breath,” said Deputy Chief Billy Goldfeder with the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department.
One of the survivors of last week’s crash attended Wednesday’s service. He is still hospitalized but convinced doctors to let him leave for a few hours so he could give his respects to his fallen friend.
“Bradford, you set a high bar,” Clark continued. “We are so very proud of you. You are a wonderful role model to the fire service and humanity. Rest easy my son.”
Dawn Goodall-Abaire with Rock Bottom Brewery Restaurant and Bar helped coordinate food for the thousands of people who attended the ceremony.
Feeding thousands of people was too big of a job for her restaurant, so she reached out for help on social media.
“It’s really amazing to see how many people without hesitation have volunteered to do what they can,” she said. “Even if it’s a small plate of something, or it’s their time.”
“The whole point of partnering in the community is to be there when they need it.” — Dawn Goodall-Abaire
Dozens of restaurants and businesses donated food and resources to feed the mourners — people who might appreciate the comfort of a meal, and a community that responded without hesitation.
“I think that’s a testament to the life that he lived,” Goodall-Abaire added.
Governor Ralph Northam ordered that all flags on state and local buildings be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Wednesday in respect and memory of Clark.
A GoFundMe page has also been set up to help the Clark family.
WATCH: ‘Family’ bond draws firefighters from across the country to Lt. Brad Clark’s funeral