World News Copyright 2000 The Roanoke Times & World News Roanoke Times & World News December 21, 2000, Thursday, NEW RIVER EDITIONS
(CHRISTIANSBURG, Va.) -- Christiansburg has lost one of its true public servants.
Hank Epperly, a lieutenant with the Christiansburg Police Department and a volunteer with the town's Rescue Squad, died early Wednesday at a Roanoke hospital from a heart attack he suffered Tuesday. He was 45.
"He really served the community, on duty and off," said Police Chief Gary Brumfield. "It's unbelievable. He took care of himself. He worked out. He ran. He was a fine man, a good family man."
Epperly had been with the department for 20 years and had been in charge of support services, mostly working with the investigations division.
"He recently completed the forensic science school in Richmond," Brumfield said. "He was a real asset to the Police Department. He was a fine employee, and he will be sadly missed."
Epperly was also an emergency medical technician and a dive team member with the Christiansburg Rescue Squad, volunteer work he had done for the past eight years. In his spare time, he hunted in the same club as rescue squad Capt. Kelly Walters.
"Everything he did was first-class," Walters said. "He's going to be hard to replace. In fact, we can't replace him."
What triggered the heart attack Tuesday morning is still unknown, Walters said.
The news reverberated through police departments across the valley. Officers, who see the law-enforcement community as one big family, faced the day in somber moods.
"They lost a good one," said Lt. Bruce Bradbery of the Blacksburg Police Department. "Christiansburg just lost a huge chunk of its community, and law enforcement in the New River Valley just lost a huge chunk of its community."
Epperly is survived by his wife, Elaine, and a son, John, both of Christiansburg.
Funeral services are scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Christiansburg.