When Judy Hopper drives the stretch of Interstate 70 on her way to Enon, she can see the new sign commemorating her niece, and the memories are bittersweet.
“Suzanne was very proud to drive that part of 70,” she said. “She considered that her mission to keep that part safe, and it was ironic because that’s where she was killed.”
The portion of I-70 between Intestate 675 and the Enon Road exit was formally dedicated Friday as the “Deputy Suzanne Hopper Memorial Highway.” She was killed in the line of duty New Year’s Day 2011 after responding to a shots fired call at the Enon Beach Mobile Home Park.
The gunman, Michael Ferryman, died in a shootout with officers.
State Sen. Chris Widener said when House Bill 325 was adopted, creating memorial highway and bridge namings throughout Ohio to recognize the sacrifices made by those in the armed forces and in law enforcement, he knew they wanted to do something special for Hopper.
“Gov. Kasich said ‘What are we going to do for Deputy Hopper’s family’ when we passed this particular legislation, and I told him we’re going to name a portion of Interstate 70 for her,” he said.
During a dedication ceremony at the National Commons park in downtown Springfield, Sheriff Gene Kelly recalled that he “got a good one” when he hired Hopper, and how citizens would call him saying how dedicated and helpful she was. Just hours before her death, she’d volunteered to work overtime on New Year’s Eve and arrested an intoxicated driver two minutes before her shift started.
“She loved answering the call, and she loved to work…. At 11:34 a.m. on Jan. 1 she responded to Enon Beach to answer her last call,” Kelly said. “As we travel down Suzanne Hopper Memorial Highway, (I ask) that we all say a prayer for her and her family and for law enforcement everywhere.”
Hopper’s husband, Matt, received a proclamation from the governor and a miniature plaque of the two signs that will denote the memorial.
Judy Hopper said she hopes the thousands who travel on Interstate 70 will remember her niece and that she gave her life for the community she served.
“I hope that they slow down, that they drive carefully, that they think about what a good person she was,” she said.
Staying with the story
The Springfield News-Sun has tracked the effort to rename a portion of local road in honor of fallen Deputy Suzanne Hopper from the time the bill was introduced through its passage and to the dedication ceremony.