Marion County commissioners have blessed a plan to rename a portion of Interstate 75 in honor of a Florida Highway Patrol trooper who was killed in 2014 at a crash scene along with a Villages sales agent and a tow truck driver.
The portion of the interstate between Mile Markers 340-344 will be designated as the “Trooper Chelsea Richard Memorial Highway.” Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law last month a transportation bill renaming that portion of I-75 in honor of Richard, who was killed in the line of duty on May 3, 2014 when she was struck by another vehicle while conducting a crash investigation near Mile Marker 342 on the southbound side of the interstate.
The crash also claimed the life of 55-year-old George R. Phillips, who worked at Properties of The Villages. Phillips’ death came just days before he and his wife, Andrea, would have celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary.
Phillips had driven to the site of another crash on I-75 south of Ocala. One of his children reportedly had been involved as a passenger in that accident.
Richard had been talking to tow truck operator John Duggan and Phillips when they were struck by a pickup truck driven by Troy T. Owens, 22, of Ocala. Richard and Duggan were pronounced dead at the scene, while Phillips died after being transported to Ocala Regional Medical Center.
Owens didn’t face criminal charges but was ticketed after being found to have violated Florida statute 316.185, which addresses special hazards, and 316.126 (1) (b), which concerns operation of vehicles on approach of an authorized emergency vehicle. Another driver involved in the accident, John Lindecamp, 30, of Newberry, received a citation on a charge of careless driving.
Richard’s funeral was held May 8, 2014 at First Baptist Church in Ocala. It was attended by then-Gov. Rick Scott, then-Attorney General Pam Bondi, a variety of politicians and hundreds of law enforcement officers.
In the days following Richard’s funeral, the FHP, the Florida State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, the Florida Police Chiefs Association, the Florida Police Benevolent Association and the Florida Sheriff’s Association designated June 2014 as “Move Over – Slow Down – Save a Life” month.