Navy veteran killed on way to work honored by friends, family on 63rd birthday

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A memorial is now along a southeast Charlotte road where a volunteer firefighter and veteran was killed in a crash.

Loved ones gathered Saturday evening to celebrate Daniel Wheeler's life on what would have been his 63rd birthday.

Instead of lighting birthday candles, family and friends are lighting candles in his memory.

(Daniel Wheeler)

The Navy veteran and volunteer firefighter, who was known to family and friends as "Pee Wee," was killed In October when crossing Monroe Road in October on his way to work at McDonald's.

“He was an all-around good guy. He would do anything for anybody,” brother Henry Wheeler said.

[PAST COVERAGE: CMPD: Icy windshield to blame for collision that killed Navy veteran]

Family members laid down flowers where Wheeler died before several people spoke, including Waxhaw Fire Chief Greg Sharpe.

Wheeler worked for the department in the 1990s and was the first black firefighter in Union County.

“The guys all remembered him as a great firefighter more than a pioneer,” Sharpe said.

Sharpe said Wheeler left Waxhaw to move to Charlotte and help support his family.

“He would help people. Anything you needed, he was right there to help,” his mother Mary Wheeler said.

Police charged the driver, Grigory Kolesnik, with reckless driving because officers say he couldn't see out of his icy windshield.