Christopher Jennings (Photo courtesy of WTSP)
LARGO, Fla. -- In his photographs, the smile is something you can't miss. Coworkers of Christopher Jennings say a grin was seldom missing from the paramedic's face.
"At work, at play, he was just a very joyful person," said Michael Bureau, an operations supervisor at Sunstar and a close friend of Jennings.
Jennings was killed Monday after an off-duty motorcycle crash in Clearwater. Just minutes before, he'd finished with a training session at Sunstar headquarters and told his colleagues goodbye.
Coworker Christopher Eisenhardt says he'll miss so much about his friend. "Everything. The smile, the laugh. Everything," he says, bowing his head.
Jennings collected a lot of nicknames -- "CJ," "Click Clack," and "Sunshine," after being forced to sing "You are my Sunshine" during a training camp.
But there was more to Jennings than just his smile. He excelled at his job and took advanced training to serve as a SWAT paramedic with the sheriff's office. "I think CJ had an honest desire to help those around him," said Bureau.
In April, Jennings played a major role in the rescue of Ireland Nugent, the little girl who lost her legs in a lawn mower accident. WTSP spoke with Jennings about that horrific call.
"I can personally remember the father screaming in the background," Jennings recalled at the time.
Later, Jennings had a chance to meet a recovering Ireland and her parents. There the Nugents learned that Jennings had tried to entertain Ireland in the back of the ambulance by making faces.
Today, Ireland's father, Jerry, wishes he could say thanks just one more time. "He had such a life ahead of helping people and doing the things that he loved," said Jerry. "Just very, very sad."