May 07–Hundreds of firefighters from across the Charlotte region lined Park Road and filled a dimly lit Forest Hill Church to honor Pineville volunteer firefighter Richard Sheltra, one of their own who apparently got lost or trapped in a burning golf supply store a week ago and later died.
“Richard lived his life dedicated to the service of others and today we’re saying goodbye to our brother,” said Bill Suthard, spokesman for the Pineville Fire Department.
Sheltra, 20, Pinesville’s 2015 top rookie firefighter and the son of a former volunteer fire chief, was called to the April 30 fire just before 9 p.m. at the Edwin Watts golf store after lightning struck the Countryside shopping center on Pineville-Matthews Road. At some point, Sheltra got lost or trapped, but was believed to be on his way out.
He never made it, and had to be pulled out. He was pronounced dead at 10:22 p.m. at Carolinas Medical Center. One other firefighter was treated at the scene and a third was taken to CMC and later released.
Sheltra died from inhaling combustibles, fire officials said last.
Friday, Pineville Mayor Jack Edwards presented a North Carolina flag, state proclamation and letter from Gov. Pat McCrory to Pineville Fire Chief Michael Gerin. And Sheltra’s family and firefighters escorted his coffin on the back of a polished firetruck from Charlotte to McEwen Funeral Service-Pineville Chapel.
Saturday, the first of two processions began about 11:40 a.m. from the funeral home along Park Road to Forest Hill Church, with a sanctuary big enough to hold the expected massive crowd.
By David Perlmutt and Joe Marusak, The Charlotte Observer
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