(WKBN) – Girard’s Charles Edward Hopper, known to his family as Eddie or Uncle Eddie, was a truck driver for more than 20 years. Just after 1 a.m. Saturday, he was in an accident in his tractor-trailer on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and died.
We talked with his family, who’s finding what peace they can with a community that has reached out to them.
“He was gonna walk me down the aisle. I asked him to do that for me,” said Chalsie Poling, Eddie’s niece.
In two weeks, Chalsie’s Uncle Eddie planned to give her away on her wedding day.
“He wanted a bowtie — he never wore a bowtie,” Chalsie said.
Now, they plan to bury him in that bowtie, something they never could have imagined doing.
“He was an excellent, excellent driver and it’s always safety. Other drivers looked up to him and went to him,” said Brenda Poling, Eddie’s sister.
He was headed to New Jersey and was supposed to be back home by 11 a.m.
In those 20 years, he had driven all over the country, thousands of miles. So, how did Eddie’s truck end up like this? One trailer and his cabin, plunged over an overpass?
“It’s impossible. Something happened out there. Honestly, my feeling is that it had to have been a malfunction. It had to have been mechanical because he was just an awesome driver,” Brenda said.
They said Eddie was the rock of the family and that with him gone, a big piece of them is missing.
“It’s just that I’m gonna miss him so much. He was my solid rock,” said Helen Hopper, Eddie’s mother.
In spite of the sadness, the support they’ve gotten from the trucking community has shown them just how much of an impact Eddie made.
“It’s just unbelievable how they’re reaching out, offering us help, telling us if there’s anything they can do for us. I’m just grateful for all those people ’cause it does help. He had a lot of friends,” Helen said.
Chalsie is now working to raise money to help her grandmother pay for her uncle’s funeral.
His calling hours are on Sunday, May 2 from 3-5 p.m. at Lane Family Funeral Homes, Austintown Chapel.
Funeral services will be on Monday, May 3 at 11:00 a.m. at the funeral home.