ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla – A 5 mile stretch of I-95, just north of the International Golf Parkway exit, is now known as Trooper Wilburn A. Kelly Memorial Highway.
Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Kelly was killed in the line of duty in 1974 when his vehicle was struck from behind in St. Augustine.
Trooper Kelly’s career began on November 1, 1952. He was in the 11th recruit class at Eglin Air Force Base, from October 7 to November 7, 1953. He was stationed in Panama City, Fort Walton Beach, Marianna, and St. Augustine.
Florida lawmakers recently passed a bill designating the state to recognize fallen troopers by renaming highways in their honor.
For Florida Highway Patrol Master Sergeant Dylan Bryan, Kelly’s story is a reminder of the risk law enforcement officers take every day and the sacrifice.
"This is not necessarily a job. It’s a way of life. It’s something that we carry close to our hearts,” he said.
The dedication ceremony for Trooper Kelly is the second to occur this year.
In mid-January, a stretch of U.S.-1 was renamed in honor of Cpl. Cleo “Tommy” Tomlinson, Trooper Merle Cook, and Trooper Robert Pruitt. They were killed in St Johns County in 1981 when their FHP plane crashed. At the time, they were assisting in the search for two breaking-and-entering suspects.
Sgt. Bryan said three more dedications are happening through late February. He also hopes these markers will send an important message to the community.
“We are out there, we are out there working. We’re serving to the best of our abilities. We will do absolutely anything we can to keep the community safe. And that includes dying in the line of duty,” Sgt. Bryan said.
Local lawmakers, advocates, and members of Trooper Kelly’s family are attending the ceremony. It is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. at the St. Augustine Florida Highway Patrol Station. The address is 875 SR 16, St. Augustine, FL 32084.