On Friday, a procession of Georgia State Patrol vehicles will travel to Interstate 85 and the Ga. Highway 100 exit to honor the second trooper killed in the line of duty in the state.
The bridge spanning the interstate in Hogansville, Ga., will be renamed at 11 a.m. to honor Trooper John Frank Bass Jr., who was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver on Feb. 15, 1950, just west of Fifth Street in Cordele. “He was out on a traffic stop and struck by a vehicle,” said Trooper Lt. Marc Ellis.
The 31-year-old father of three and U.S. Army veteran had served two years as a trooper before he was killed.
Bass is one of 12 fallen troopers approved for a memorial by the General Assembly this year. Each memorial identifies the trooper by name on an intersection or memorial highway.
Columbus Recorder’s Court Judge Michael Cielinski will be among officials at the ceremony. For nearly eight years, Cielinski has worked to get fallen troopers in Georgia recognized with a memorial.
“It feels good,” Cielinski said of the honor for Bass. “It really does.”
By the end of 2014, Cielinski hopes memorials will be approved and completed for two dozen troopers who died serving on the state highways.
“You have to get legislation approved and talk to the families to see where they want it,” the judge said.
Cielinski is waiting for the day when Trooper William Gaines Andrews Jr. will be recognized with a memorial. Andrews, 32, of Manchester, Ga., pursued a speeding vehicle on State Route 41 north of Talbotton with only 15 minutes remaining on his shift. His patrol cruiser went out of control around 11:14 p.m. and struck an oak tree on May 7, 1977.
Because the judge was familiar with the family, Cielinski was called out that night more than 36 years ago to take the trooper’s wife and family to the hospital. Andrews died of injuries sustained in the accident a day later.
Cielinski doesn’t expect the state Legislature to approve a memorial for Andrews until next year’s session.