House OKs warnings signs instead of roadside crosses

Memorials • Families attend legislative session to see bill passed.
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As families of some fallen Highway Patrol troopers watched Friday, the Utah House unanimously approved a new type of roadside memorial for them.

Because court cases by atheists forced the state to remove white crosses that had honored 14 fallen troopers, HB182 will replace them with warning signs — accompanied by a placard with a fallen officer's name.

The House approved it on a 70-0 vote, and sent it to the Senate.

Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, sponsor of the bill, said it would place signs either in the area where the trooper died or in the community where the trooper lived. They would have safety messages such as reminding motorists to move over and slow down when approaching emergency vehicles.

"Last year, 21 Highway Patrol troopers were hit while working on the sides of Utah's roadway. Fortunately, none of them lost their lives," Wilson said. So he said the new signs would "serve as a memorial to the troopers who have lost their lives and will also serve as a reminder to the citizens of Utah … to drive safely."

Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, a Highway Patrol lieutenant, said as about 20 fellow troopers watched in the House chamber, "This means a lot to all these guys in brown … it means even more to these families who have lost loved ones."

Rep. Lavar Christensen, R-Draper, said, "It's a wonderful bill. It comes from the heart of the people of Utah."