State rep poses name change for part of I-69 to honor trooper
State Rep. Ben Smaltz (R-Dist. 52) wants to rename a stretch of Interstate 69 to honor fallen Indiana State Police Master Trooper James Bailey. The trooper was killed in the line of duty on 69 just south of Auburn, in Smaltz’s district, in March.
Smaltz said Bailey died a hero and should be remembered as such.
“Renaming this road in Auburn would be very important to his family, his friends, law enforcement and our community that we stand with law enforcement, and we recognize their sacrifice and we appreciate what they do and that we won’t forget them.”
Bailey was directing traffic on I-69 around weather-related car wrecks during a March snowstorm. Sands was fleeing police north from Fort Wayne and heading toward the area of the crashes. Bailey deployed stop sticks in an effort to end the pursuit, and police said Sands swerved to avoid them, striking the trooper.
Terry Sands III, the man who struck Bailey with his car while fleeing police, awaits a trial on charges of murder and resisting law enforcement. A DeKalb County judge granted Sands' request for a change of venue in the case. His trial is now scheduled for March in Wabash County.
Smaltz is urging the Interim Committee on Roads and Transportation to rename the three-mile stretch of I-69 between exits 326 and 329, where Bailey was killed, in honor of the fallen state police trooper.
Smaltz gave packets of information to each board member which included letters of support from community members, elected officials and law enforcement. Bailey’s wife and children support the renaming as well.
The board will vote on Smaltz’s proposal next week. If it passes, it will get full Statehouse consideration in the 2024 legislative session.