MAURICE RIVER TOWNSHIP - Signs along Route 55 alert drivers that a three-mile stretch is dedicated in memory of a fallen N.J. State Trooper, who lost his life along the very highway they travel.
The state Department of Transportation erected the “Trooper Frankie L. Williams Memorial Highway” signs at mile posts 20 and 23 on the north and south bound side of the roadway as it winds its way through Millville.
The Maurice River Township Committee is hosting a community gathering to acknowledge the highway dedication that immortalizes a trooper who once served their community.
“We want to make it official,” Maurice River Township Mayor Patti Gross told The Daily Journal on Tuesday.
The ceremony is set for 5:30 p.m. March 6 at Lee Chester Hall, located at 548 Main St. in Leesburg.
Plans are to symbolically unveil the highway sign during a presentation to the trooper’s family, Gross said.
On Dec. 5, 2016, Williams, 31, was responding to reports of an erratic driver when his cruiser was struck head-on by a vehicle that crossed the Route 55 median.
After the trooper’s tragic death, the Maurice River Township Committee approached Jeff Van Drew with the highway dedication suggestion and found the state senator already pursuing the idea.
Van Drew said Williams "represented the best of America."
"He was willing to sacrifice his life for the good and safety of others," he said. "He is a true hero. I am proud of him and his family whom I have come to know."
The Maurice River Township mayor commended Williams’ bravery.
“We couldn’t even begin to guess how many lives he saved,” Gross said. “He took the impact of that car heading south head-on.”
It is believed the other driver, who also died in the collision, suffered a medical emergency.
The Maurice River Township committee plans to invite the leadership of the other Cumberland County municipalities served by the Port Norris State Police barracks, where Williams’ was assigned.
The highway signs are a steadfast reminder that Williams was “our trooper,” Gross said.
“Frankie is gone and this is not going to change what happened,’” the mayor said, but the public tribute will honor his memory and show other troopers “how we treat a fallen officer.”
“We want them to know they are appreciated,” Gross said.
In September, Atlantic Cape Community College dedicated an interior campus road as “Frankie Williams Way.”
Williams, an Atlantic County resident, earned his associate’s degree at the college before continuing his studies at Rutgers University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2012.
Deborah M. Marko: @dmarko_dj; 856-563-5256; firstname.lastname@example.org
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Boardwalk Hall hosted the funeral service for New Jersey State Trooper Frankie Williams on Monday, December 12. Following the service, the fallen trooper was given a final farewell down the boardwalk.