Montgomery County officer dies at scene of house fire

Piedmont Triad News

MOUNT GILEAD, N.C. (WGHP) — Officer Craig Cloninger died from medical complications while responding to a fire Saturday night.

The 38-year-old leaves behind his wife and two daughters.

A patrol car parked outside the Mount Gilead Police Department is now a memorial to Cloninger.

It was Cloninger’s favorite patrol car. He even asked the chief to buy it after it went to surplus. It was also the car he drove the night he died.

“We could always count on Craig to be there and to always be there the entire shift, and to come in when we needed him,” said Pat Preslar, chief of the Mount Gilead Police Department.

Cloninger spent 20 years in law enforcement. He spent the last eight with the MGPD as a reserve officer.

“Craig was one of my top volunteers,” Preslar said.

Cloninger responded to a house fire Saturday night off of Northview Road. While he was keeping people away from the area, he suffered a medical emergency.

“It could be likely some type of issue with his heart, we think, we’re pretty certain that’s what happened,” Preslar said.

People in the community remember Cloninger as a familiar and friendly face.

“He was always waving and you could tell he was a friendly guy,” said Anthony Allsbrook, a Mount Gilead resident. “I would see him often as he rolled through the neighborhood.”

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