Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
Around 2,000 people packd the Terrell Performing Arts Center to bid farewell to William Scott Tanksley, the Dallas firefighter killed while helping a stranded driver on an icy overpass. While mourners lined stretches of the 35-mile route to the burial site, other firefighters manned stations so that colleagues could pay their respects.
A Dallas firefighter killed last week after he was struck by a vehicle has been buried in a ceremony that drew hundreds of firefighters from across the state.
A funeral service for William Scott Tanksley, 40, was held Monday in Terrell, east of Dallas. The service drew nearly 2,000 people including hundreds of firefighters from across the state.
“I encourage you to stay strong and keep serving because I believe that’s exactly what Scott would have wanted us to do,” Dallas Fire Rescue Chief Louie Bright said.
Tanksley lived in the Kaufman County town of Kemp with his wife and three young children. His son was seen crying as he clutched his father’s fire helmet at the service.
The service was held at the Terrell ISD Performing Arts Center, the one Kaufman County building large enough to host such an event.
Gary Freeman gave a eulogy at the service. Freeman said he had been Tanksley’s friend since kindergarten.
“He always had the world at his fingertips. He was a good-looking guy. He was an athletic guy. He was a smart guy. He could do it all. But he did it all in humility. He never bragged about being the best. He just went out and proved it. He didn’t preach about hard work. He just worked hard,” Freeman said.
Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez said he brought condolences from the entire city for Tanksley’s family.
“Our fire department is a collection of superstars and he was among them and at the top of the list,” Gonzalez said.
After the service Tanksley’s coffin was loaded onto a fire engine from his Dallas Fire Station 12 for a procession to Restland Cemetery-Garden of Honor in Dallas.
Dozens of fire trucks and emergency vehicles took part in the procession on I-30 and I-635.
— Ken Kalthoff (@KenKalthoffNBC5) February 17, 2014
Tanksley was buried in Restland’s Garden of Honor, which is reserved for fallen Dallas public safety veterans.
“He was a hero, a long time before this week,” Freeman said.
Tanksley was killed Feb. 10. Investigators said the 40-year-old was struck by a vehicle that had lost control on the icy roadway. Police said Tanksley and other firefighters from Dallas Station 12 had responded to help a driver stranded on a Spur 408 bridge over I-20 when another vehicle slipping on the ice hit Tanksley, causing him to fall about 30 feet to the pavement below.
Tanksley had been a Dallas firefighter for 14 years.
NBC 5's Ken Kalthoff contributed to this report.