Firefighters say goodbye to Ed Fleming

  • Ed Fleming is shown at a parade in 2018.
    Ed Fleming is shown at a parade in 2018.
  • Motorcycles ride in honor of Ed Fleming on Saturday.
    Motorcycles ride in honor of Ed Fleming on Saturday.

    Murphy – Fire and rescue personnel from across Cherokee County and beyond gathered Saturday to honor fellow firefighter Ed Fleming, who passed away Oct. 29.
    After the funeral at Murphy First Baptist Church, a long precession of fire trucks, rescue vehicles, motorcycles and other well-wishers lined up for miles down the four-lane highway as they took Fleming to his final resting place.
    Hiwassee Dam Fire Chief Chad McNabb has known Fleming since he was a child.
    “No matter what you needed, if he couldn’t help you he would find someone who could,” McNabb said. “At the drop of a hat, if someone needed help he would go. That’s just the kind of guy he was.”
    Fleming, who served in fire and rescue for more than 30 years in Cherokee County, was severely injured in a motorcycle accident on Oct. 4, 2018. He was a carpenter and a member of First Free Will Baptist Church.
    In the accident, Fleming was riding his motorcycle eastbound on U.S. 64 when a vehicle came up and hit him from behind, Messer said. He suffered head trauma as well as multiple broken bones, including those in his wrist, ankle, face, ribs and spine.
    Volunteers from seven area fire departments raised $11,000 before last Christmas in a boot drive organized by the Peachtree Volunteer Fire Department. Other departments involved included Bellview, Brasstown, Hiwassee Dam, Murphy, Ranger and Wolf Creek. The money raised through the boot drive completely covered one stage of his rehabilitation process.
    “It’s amazing,” Peachtree Fire Chief Jordan Messer said at the time of the boot drive. “He served at nearly every one of those fire departments.”
    In rehab, he had to relearn how do things like swallow, walk and use his arms.
    “Heaven has gained an angel. Sweet and loving man,” Eric Spalding of Hayesville said on Facebook.
    “He’s in a better place now. We will surely miss you greatly. I’ll see you again but later. Thank you for everything you’ve taught us and done for us.
    “We love you, Ed.”
    The injuries from the crash made dealing with other health challenges tougher for Fleming, but he never let anything slow him down while still helping his community.
    “He was dealing with dialysis for years, and he still went out on calls and helped people,” McNabb said. “He made a real impression on me and a lot of others with the way he carried himself, the way he acted around people and how big his heart was.
    “He was the ultimate professional in this business, and I hope that his example inspires others to see what they can do to help their communities.”
    Samantha Sinclair contributed to this report.