THP Trooper: When one dies, we all come to honor - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

THP Trooper: When one dies, we all come to honor

JASPER, TN. (WRCB)  --  Family, friends and fellow Tennessee State Troopers say their final goodbyes to Trooper, Joe Snipes.

The 47-year-old was killed Thursday on Pleasant Grove Road in Bradley County.  He was riding a motorcycle when it crashed into a truck.

His wife, Sheila, was hurt during the crash, but will recover.

Hundreds lined the high school as Snipes was honored for his service, and remembered for the man that he was.

Snipes was a 25 year employee of the State of Tennessee, but is described as so much more.

For decades the Marion County High School graduate served his community in everything from football to law enforcement.

It's a moving scene at Marion County High School, as more than 200 State Troopers take their seats.   

THP Colonel, Tracy Trott, knew Snipes well.  "He just wanted to be a good trooper, and help people."  For 25 years that's exactly what Snipes did.  After starting his career in Tennessee Vehicle Enforcement he eventually became a trooper.

"It's a brotherhood,"  Trott says.  "You don't see each other every today, but you get to know each other." 

Those who know Snipes describe him as honest, happy and always willing to help.  As the service begins Reverend J.R. Bridgeman, a close friend, remembers the person that Snipes was.

"I could stand for three hours and tell stories about him," Bridgeman says. 

Of all those stories, the one Bridgeman tells is about an experience Snipes had in church last Sunday.

"He said, 'I went to church tonight and I got saved'," Bridgeman says, recounting the trooper's words.  "Tears started coming to my eyes." 

That was four days before the motorcycle accident that took Snipes life.  The trooper and his wife, Sheila, were traveling in Bradley County when their motorcycle collided with a truck.  Snipes was pronounced dead at the scene.

"It's like losing someone in your family," says Colonel Trott.  "We have a big organization, but you feel like everyone of them are related to you." 

Many of those in attendance also celebrated with Snipes at his wedding a year and a half ago.  Sunday the brotherhood gathered to support him again, and this time to honor the legacy he leaves behind.

"When one hurts we all hurt," says Trott.  "When one dies we all come to honor."

Sheila Snipes suffered a crushed elbow, broken jaw and serious hand injuries in the crash.  She's still recovering at Erlanger, the service was recorded for her.

Investigators believe rain contributed to the crash.

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