PINEVILLE, NC (WBTV) - A bridge dedication ceremony was held in Pineville Wednesday morning in honor of fallen firefighter Richard Sheltra.
Officials with the North Carolina Department of Transportation announced in October that the bridge over Little Sugar Creek on South Polk Street in Pineville was named the Richard Sheltra Bridge. The official dedication ceremony was Wednesday.
Sheltra was killed in the line of duty in late April 2016.
"This is a wonderful early Christmas gift," Pineville Mayor Jack Edwards said of the Richard Sheltra Bridge.
Nearly every speaker asked commuters to take a moment to remember Richard Sheltra when driving over the bridge now named after him.
Dedicating this bridge to Sheltra "will allow Richard's memory to live outside of ther Pineville Fire Department," the Pineville Fire Department chief said.
"Richard's name has come home to Pineville," Sheltra's father said. "It will be permanently marking a side of the bridge."
Sheltra's father asked everyone to accept a challenge, mentioned by other speakers, to "take a moment to silently think and pray for a first responder" when driving over the bridge.
Sheltra died while fighting a fire at the Edwin Watts golf store, located at 8500 Pineville-Matthews Road. At one point, Sheltra reportedly became lost in the building but was on his way out, according to an audio tape of communications at the scene.
Sheltra was found "in distress" before he was brought out of the building. He was taken to Carolinas Medical Center, but did not survive. Investigators say lightning started the fire that Sheltra went in to help put out.
Pineville Fire officials said the 20-year-old had been volunteering with the fire department for three years, and was named Rookie of the Year in 2015.