TAMPA — It was a call that Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Steve Gaskins didn’t want to have to make.
For months, Gaskins had overseen the restoration of a monument to fallen Patrol members that stands outside the Troop C headquarters on North McKinley Drive. A gleaming black granite slab etched with the names of the 45 troopers killed in the line of service was lowered into place last spring.
Then came number 46, and Gaskins had to call the engraver to add the name of Sgt. William Trampas Bishop, a 30-year veteran of the agency who was killed while standing outside his patrol car at a crash scene on Interstate 75 in Alachua County
Fellow troopers, family members of the fallen and members of the public were scheduled to gather Tuesday evening to dedicate the restored monument and pay tribute to the men and women listed there. They include the five members of Troop C who have died in the line of duty.
"It’s taken a while to get it done, but I’m very proud of it," Gaskins said. "It’s a very poignant reflection of the sacrifices of the members listed on the wall and a good reminder of what our troopers face every day."
The original memorial features a metal cutout of a trooper’s figure to represent the fallen. That has aged well, but the original granite slab had become weathered and cracked and had no more room for additional names.
Along with the new granite, the restored memorial includes fresh landscaping by Samuel P. McCranie, the son of a trooper who completed the work for his Eagle Scout project. The memorial now features a bar code visitors can scan with their smart phones to navigate to the FHP website where all of the fallen troopers and their stories are listed.
Private donations paid for the restoration.
The new granite includes another necessary feature that Gaskins acknowledged will eventually be needed: blank space.
Tuesday’s ceremony is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Troop C headquarters, 11305 North McKinley Drive in Tampa. The public is invited.
Contact Tony Marrero at [email protected] or (813) 226-3374. Follow @tmarrerotimes.
Killed in the line of duty
Here are the five members of the Florida Highway Patrol’s Troop C who have died in the line of duty:
Trooper John C. Hagerty
March 18, 1970
Hagerty, 44, was piloting a traffic plane over Lakeland when he was struck by a low-flying U.S. Navy jet. He’d worked for the Highway Patrol for 13 years and was stationed in Frostproof, Punta Gorda, Stuart and Orlando.
Trooper Kenneth E. Flynt
Jan. 1, 1976
Flynt, 52, was shot after he opened his door to a neighbor seeking protection from an armed gunman trying to steal her car. He’d been in the Highway Patrol for 19 years and was stationed in Tampa.
Lt. Benedict James Thomas
June 9, 1989
Thomas, 32, was struck by a car while walking back to his vehicle after investigating an abandoned vehicle on Interstate 75 in Tampa. He’d worked for the Highway Patrol for 11 years and was stationed in Tampa and Tallahassee.
Trooper James Bradford-Jean Crooks
May 19, 1998
Crooks was shot in Pasco County while trying to apprehend Hank Earl Carr, who was fleeing north after fatally shooting Tampa police detectives Rick Childers and Randy Bell. Crooks had been with the Highway Patrol for just nine months.
Trooper Chelsea Renee Richard
May 3, 2014
Richard was struck and killed by a vehicle while investigating a crash on I-75 south of Ocala. Richard was speaking with a tow truck driver and a person involved in the crash when all three were struck. Richard and the tow truck driver died at the scene and the third person died at a hospital. Richard had worked for the Highway Patrol for nine years and had a four-year-old son.