Mount Gilead, NC – Mount Gilead Police Officer Craig Cloninger suffered a medical emergency and died while he was responding to a house fire on Saturday night.
The incident occurred just before midnight on Aug. 14 when Mount Gilead police and the Mount Gilead Fire Department responded to a residential fire on Northview Road, according to a press release posted to the Mount Gilead Police Department’s (MGPD) official Facebook page.
Officer Cloninger was part of the response team waiting for firefighters to douse the flame-engulfed house when he suffered a medical emergency, The Richmond Observer reported.
“I would like to take the opportunity to recognize and commend the Mount Gilead Fire Department personnel who were assisting us on the fire scene on Northview Road. As usual, they sprang into action upon arrival, selflessly addressing the fire while officers and EMS personnel stood by, waiting to assist,” MGPD Chief Pat Preslar said in a statement.
“Then the unthinkable happened, Officer Cloninger of the Police Department, suffered a medical emergency and fire and EMS personnel seamlessly transitioned into life-saving mode,” Chief Preslar continued. “They worked valiantly to stabilize Craig so he could be transported to the hospital as quickly as possible.”
Medics on the scene immediately took lifesaving measures and Officer Cloninger was transported to FirstHealth Montgomery Memorial Hospital in Troy, according to the police department’s press release.
The police department said the officer was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Fire investigators later found a dead body inside the burned-out residence, The Richmond Observer reported.
MGPD said in its press release that the 38-year-old Officer Cloninger served the department in a reserve capacity.
The release said the officer began his career as a deputy for the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office and later worked as a Montgomery County sheriff’s deputy.
He served as a school resource officer at East Montgomery High School while working for the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.
MGPD said that Officer Cloninger had most recently been employed by the Biscoe Police Department.
“The death of an officer is a tragic event; it touches the hearts and emotions of everyone, not only in the department, but the community as a whole,” MGPD Chief Pat Preslar said in a statement. “When it involves someone as young as Craig, who has children, it is even more difficult.”
“We will miss him tremendously as he was an integral part of the Mount Gilead Police Department team,” Chief Preslar added.
Officer Cloninger leaves behind a wife and two daughters, according to The Richmond Observer.
Rest In Peace: Police Officer Craig Cloninger. Mount Gilead Police Department, North Carolina. End of Watch Saturday, August 14, 2021. @PoliceOne @ODMP #BlueLivesMatter #officerdown pic.twitter.com/uRGVZnVNU5
— R Cook (@retiredNCSHP) August 15, 2021
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Mount Gilead Police Officer Craig Cloninger, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.