A highway dedication in honor of the late Trooper Nicholas Dees took place Thursday at Gordon Cooper Technology Center in Shawnee.
Speakers included Secretary of Safety and Security-Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Thompson, Secretary of Transportation Gary Ridley, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Chief Rick Adams, state Sens. Susan Paddock (D-Ada), Ervin Yen (R-Oklahoma City) and Ron Sharp (R-Shawnee).
About 150 people attended the event, including many OHP personnel.
“We are honored by the sacrifices given by Trooper Dees, by those who have served in the past, and by those who work today,” Adams said. “This piece of I-40 will always stand in honor of Nick, and of those who work today.”
Dees was the 35th OHP line-of-duty death since the agency’s inception in 1937.
The memorial highway markers are on Interstate 40 at mile marker 190 in Pottawatomie County and mile marker 200 in Seminole County. Due to high traffic in the area, no unveiling ceremony was held at the site.
Paddack encouraged attendees to pray for the Dees family, and for all the men and women who serve in law enforcement, when they pass the commemorative highway signs.
Dees was killed on duty Jan. 31, 2015 on I-40 east of Shawnee. He and Trooper Keith Burch were investigating an incident involving a tractor-trailer when they were struck by a driver who was updating social media at the time of the crash. Burch, who was in attendance at the dedication ceremony, was seriously injured, but has since returned to duty. The driver was sentenced to 12 years with the Department of Corrections, with five years to be served in prison and seven years on probation.
The Trooper Nicholas Dees and Trooper Keith Burch Act was signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin in May of 2015, making texting while driving illegal in the state of Oklahoma.
Dees was born Jan. 23, 1985, in Fairview. He graduated from Bridge Creek High School in 2003 and Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 2008. He was a member of the 61st OHP Academy, graduating in July of 2013. He was assigned to Troop D headquarters in McAlester.
His name was added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., in May.