Ceremony, Hwy Sign Honors Fallen State Trooper Near Bridgeport

BRIDGEPORT – Family, friends, and colleagues of the late Nebraska State Patrol Trooper Jerry Smith gathered Saturday along Highway 26 near Bridgeport to dedicate a sign honoring him on the first anniversary of his death in a line-of-duty traffic accident.

The event also marked the completion of a year-long journey by Smith’s daughter, Mechelle, to run 373 miles – her father’s badge number.

She said when she returned home from his funeral, she was reading emails he sent her while he was serving with the military in Iraq and found one in which he wrote “If you’re bored and you can’t find anything to do, go run.”

Mechelle Smith said she “stared at that email for a while thinking about how one of the things that I love most in life was introduced to me by my dad. I was going to keep running, but for him.”

Her final run was the last mile to the site of the crash that killed her father and now the site of the sign honoring him, which was created by the Nebraska Dept of Transportation and unveiled Saturday by the State Patrol.

Patrol Supt Colonel John Bolduc took part in the ceremony, saying “Today is a day about remembering (because) Jerry’s memory is going to live in our hearts, and that’s what remembering is about.”

Jerry Smith was 51 when he died, but had been a state trooper only 4 years – having joined the Patrol after a 25-year career in the Army. He’s believed to be the oldest recruit to ever complete the agency’s Basic Recruit Camp and was stationed in Scottsbluff as part of Troop E for his entire NSP career.

Smith was the 12th Nebraska State Trooper to fall in the line of duty. All 12 are memorialized on both the Nebraska Law Enforcement Memorial in Grand Island and the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington D.C.