Journey from loss to the legislature: WDBJ anchor Hurst becomes state delegate

WDBJ journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward were killed on live television in 2015. (Source: Facebook)
WDBJ journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward were killed on live television in 2015. (Source: Facebook)

(WWBT) - One of the new state delegates in the General Assembly is someone whose life was forever changed when WDBJ journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward were shot to death on live television in 2015.

Chris Hurst was Parker's boyfriend and a WDBJ anchor. Since then, Hurst left his job and was elected to his first term in office.

We caught up with him on move-in day. He was moving not only into his new office in the Pocahontas Building here in Richmond, but into a new career and a new life.

"Reminds me of home and really, I think, brightens up the office," said Hurst (D - Blacksburg), showing us artwork by students from Southwest Virginia.  He was getting ready to hang them on his new office walls.  The office where the  former WDBJ news anchor will now work as a state delegate, representing Blacksburg.

We asked what Alison might think of his becoming a state delegate.

He responded with a smile, "I think she would want to redecorate some of the things in the office, but I think she'd be very proud."

Hurst has come a long way from August 26, 2015, when his girlfriend and WDBJ reporter Alison Parker, photographer Adam Ward, and Chamber of Commerce Director Vicki Gardner were shot on live television by a former, disgruntled WDBJ reporter. Alison and Adam died and the gunman later killed himself.

In his grief, Hurst knew he had to make a change.

"It really was a lot of moments where I realized I wasn't happy where I was at WDBJ," he recalled. "Great people there. I have a lot of friends there. But it was emotionally too painful for me to continue on and stay there."

He decided to leave his job. He says someone suggested he run for office.

"The more I thought about it, the more thought it would be a natural progression of what I had been doing: listening to families and trying to give them a voice," Hurst told us.

And while he supports measures to prevent gun violence, he says that wasn't his primary motive.

"I didn't run for office to try and solely be focused on one issue. If I wanted to do that, I would have become an advocate," he told us.

Instead, Hurst proposed a bill aimed at preventing workplace violence by giving employers immunity for sharing with other potential employers that an worker has threatened violence.

"To identify people who may be a threat before hiring, and then certainly during employment, to try to get people who may be displaying violent behaviors and violent attitudes to get them the help and assistance they need," he explained.

The bill was later voted down in a subcommittee.

Since stepping down as a WDBJ anchor, Hurst has also been setting up a media consulting business. And on the day he was sworn in as a state delegate, he wore the tie Alison gave him for Valentine's Day, and carried her with him in his heart.

"I think about her all the time. I talk to her parents every day just like i talk to my parents every day. But I'm on the path to being made whole again and being well. And this is one part of that. And I think that with each day I continue to be touched by her grace and God's grace and I think that everything will work itself out," he said.

As he settles into a new office and a new beginning.

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