CHATHAM — Friends and co-workers of Chad Michael Atchison recalled him as an energetic young Pittsylvania County prosecutor with a mischievous sense of humor and a bright future ahead of him.
“He was funny, no matter what,” said Cassidy Padgett, deputy clerk with the Pittsylvania County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
Atchison found humor in almost anything that was said, Padgett added.
“He was going to find something to joke about,” she said.
Atchison, 27, an assistant commonwealth’s attorney with the Pittsylvania County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, was killed at about 12:45 a.m. Saturday while riding a skateboard. He was traveling east on Green Street through the intersection at Jefferson Street in Danville when he ran into the passenger side of a pickup truck, police reported.
Nearly 200 colleagues and others who knew him gathered in front the of the historic Pittsylvania County Circuit Courthouse on Thursday morning to view the hearse carrying his body as it passed through Main Street in downtown Chatham.
Escorted by law enforcement vehicles, the hearse from a Maryland funeral home traveled from Norris Funeral Services in Mount Hermon and stopped in front of the courthouse for 27 seconds — a second for each year of his life.
Law enforcement escorted the hearse north to the Pittsylvania County line as it headed for Atchison’s native Maryland.
In a prepared statement to the Danville Register & Bee, Pittsylvania Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Haskins called Atchison “a dedicated prosecutor” who had “quickly blossomed into an outstanding trial attorney.”
“There was no case he would not try, no work he would leave undone,” Haskins wrote. “He was an excellent speaker. He was quick on his feet, and he was able to rely upon an unbelievably accurate and detailed memory.”
A 2016 graduate of Liberty University School of Law, Atchison joined the commonwealth’s attorney’s office that year after passing the Virginia Bar exam. He had previously prosecuted cases for the county’s office as an intern in 2015.
He also was president of the Pittsylvania County Bar Association.
Tears streamed down the faces of those who remembered working with Atchison.
Circuit Court Deputy Clerk Katie Owen recalled him as young man full of life and willing to learn.
“God just blessed him with a natural talent,” Owen said. “He was always smiling. He took his cases seriously. He always stood for justice.”
Haskins pointed to Atchison’s Christian faith and love for his family and vocation.
“He loved the Lord,” Haskins wrote. “He loved his family. He loved his work and the people he worked with. He was always happy.”
Delegate Les Adams, R-Chatham, said he had just talked to Atchison on June 7, not long before the fatal incident.
“We spoke briefly about a case,” said Adams, an attorney with Adams Elmore and Fisk in Chatham. “He was a very energetic young man. He certainly had a lot of potential.”
The crowd that had gathered in the shade in front of the courthouse slowly grew from about 65 to more than 100 as the time approached for the procession’s arrival. A hush fell over those gathered, with many sobbing, when the hearse stopped.
Afterward, Owen read from 2 Corinthians, chapter five, and offered a prayer before the crowd. County Finance Director Kim Van Der Hyde led everyone in singing “Amazing Grace.”
Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office Deputy and Bailiff Alice Hardy, when asked what she liked about Atchison, was succinct.
“Everything,” Hardy said.
In his statement, Haskins said Atchison’s positive attitude brightened everyone’s mood.
“We miss him dearly,” Haskins wrote. “While we are greatly saddened and mourn the death of our dear friend, we give thanks to God that such a man lived, and that he was able to touch and enrich our lives. The sum of all our lives is greater for his having been a part of it.”
A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Evangelical Presbyterian Church, 710 Ridgely Ave., Annapolis, Maryland, with family receiving guests an hour prior.
Burial will follow at 1 p.m. at Lakemont Memorial Park, Davidsonville, Maryland. Online condolences may be made at www.LastingTributesFuneralCare.com.