Niagara Gazette — Hero.
It was a word spoken over and over and over in the filled to over-flowing sanctuary of Riverside Presbyterian Church on Tuesday morning.
With a Marine Corps honor guard looking on and a long blue line of volunteer firefighters standing by, family and friends used the word repeatedly as they said their final good-byes to Richard “Ricky” Jones.
The Falls native, and son of city police Lt. Dan Jones, was laid to rest with full military honors after his tragic death on a California highway. Jones, a 20-year-old Marine military police officer, died as he ran to try to aid the victim of a car crash.
“He was a true friend, a great Marine and a better human being,” said Marine Cpl. Matthew Petrovich, who was Jones’ close friend and a part of the honor guard.
“It is my privilege to have been able to bring Lance Cpl. Jones home,” Petrovich said in a voice choked with emotion. “He sacrificed himself to protect others, even someone he didn’t know. He tried to save (the crash victim) because he believed everyone is special.”
Jones, who was stationed at the Marine Corps Depot in San Diego, was on his way back to his base with a fellow Marine, when the pickup truck they were driving was involved in a multi-vehicle chain-reaction collision on Interstate 8 in nearby Mission Valley.
A volunteer firefighter with the Frontier Volunteer Fire Co. in Wheatfield, Jones and his fellow Marine got out of their truck to try to help the driver of a car that had been hit by two other vehicles. As they ran to aid that victim, the other marine said he had to jump over a guardrail to avoid yet another oncoming car.
The marine landed on a highway underpass about 20 feet below. Jones’ body was also found on that underpass.