News

2020

Fallen FHP Trooper Receives Roadway Designation

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~A portion of U.S. 41 in Manatee County was named in remembrance of FHP Sergeant John C. Baxter Jr.~

Sergeant John Baxter Jr Memorial Highway

Bradenton, Fla. – Today, a portion of U.S. Highway 41 in Manatee County was named in remembrance of fallen Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) Sergeant John C. Baxter Jr.

Sergeant Baxter’s career with FHP began in August 1960. He was a member of the 20th recruit class in Tallahassee, and continued to serve the residents and visitors of Florida for 25 years. During his career, he was stationed in Brooksville, Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Sarasota, and Bradenton, where he served as a supervisor and an aircraft pilot known as “the bear in the air.”

On October 2, 1985, Sergeant Baxter, via aircraft, was assisting in the search for an armed robbery suspect. Sergeant Baxter sighted the suspect fleeing in a black Jeep in the vicinity of U.S. 301. While attempting to keep the subject in sight and maintain radio contact with ground troopers and air control, Sergeant Baxter’s aircraft suddenly lost altitude and crashed into a parking lot of a business in Manatee County, resulting in his death. At the time of Sergeant Baxter’s death, he was 57 years old.

“The brave men and women of the Florida Highway Patrol put themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis to keep our roadways and those who travel them safe. I was proud to sponsor legislation honoring our fallen troopers who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty,” said Senator Lauren Book. “With these designations, our first responders will know that their sacrifice and heroism will never be forgotten by Floridians.”

Representative Chuck Brannan said, “It was my privilege to sponsor this legislation so that we can permanently honor those troopers who have given their lives in defense of all we hold dear. It is my hope that the motoring public will always remember their sacrifices as they pass by these markers on our state highways.”

“Paying honor to Sergeant Baxter by naming a portion of U.S. 41 in his honor is a great tribute,” said Colonel Gene S. Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “I would like to thank the Florida Legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis for ensuring the sacrifices of our fallen heroes are memorialized.”

The roadway sign dedication ceremony was held today at the FHP station in Bradenton, Florida. Sergeant Baxter’s beloved wife, Fay, attended the ceremony. FHP members and leadership, along with local officials gathered to pay tribute and unveil the roadway sign in Sergeant Baxter’s honor.