By Amir Vera
PRINCE GEORGE -- Whenever a driver is traveling on Interstate 95 from now on, they'll be reminded of the memory of Virginia State Trooper Leo Whitt, who died 29 years ago.
The Johns Road/Route 667 bridge near Sussex County on I-95 has now been dedicated as the Trooper Leo Whitt Memorial Bridge thanks to the combined efforts of the Prince George Board of Supervisors and the approval of Commonwealth Transportation Safety Board.
"This bridge will be a lasting testament to Leo Whitt and his service," said Col. W. Steven Flaherty, superintendent of Virginia State Police. "All who travel up and down Interstate 95 will know his name and they will understand his sacrifice. He won't be just a Virginia trooper that was statistic, they will know what he stood for."
On Friday morning members of the Virginia State Police, County Board of Supervisors, the Virginia Department of Transportation, Tri-City officials and members of Whitt's family gathered for the dedication ceremony for Whitt.
"We chose the Johns Road Bridge to honor Trooper Whitt because it is close to the location where he was murdered," said William Robertson, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors.
Trooper Whitt was shot and killed on the evening of April 12, 1985, during a traffic stop on I-95 north near Sussex County. A press release by state police said that after an extensive search that spanned into Henrico County, police found and apprehended Gregory W. Beaver Jr., 20, at the time. He was charged with capital murder and executed by lethal injection on Dec. 3, 1996.
Retired Master Trooper C.W. "Charlie" Weaver worked in Dinwiddie when Whitt was a trooper in Prince George. He was sent to Whitt's home the night he was murdered to tend to the family.
"The memory of that night shall never depart from me," Weaver said.
Since then, his family and the family of Whitt have grown very close. He said aside from it being the area where he was murdered, there was also a symbolic reason as to why the location, and bridge for that matter, were chosen.
"I want to say that Leo and all the other police officers of whatever uniform you wear, whatever community you serve, you are a bridge between good and evil, between light and darkness," Weaver said.
Whitt was survived by his wife and two children, all of whom were at the memorial service. His daughter Angela Kyle described how he would want to know where she was at all times. He was really big on punctuality and simply doing the right thing all of the time.
"That's what I really remember about him. He did the right thing and didn't take the easy way out," Kyle said.
Remembering Whitt and keeping him in the memory of the county was the main theme of the day. All of the speakers touched on how important it was to remember Trooper Whitt's sacrifice. They all also said that this bridge will definitely serve to help keep Whitt's memory alive.
"We won't say that Leo Whitt was a Virginia State Police trooper because he is a Virginia State Police trooper," Flaherty said. "He will be forever missed, but he will never, ever be forgotten."
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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