BARSTOW • Dozens of California Highway Patrol officers, local dignitaries, and family members paid tribute Thursday to CHP Officer Justin McGrory — killed in June 2010 while conducting a traffic stop on Interstate 15 — as a section of Interstate 15 was dedicated in his name.
In June 2010, Justin McGrory, 28, was conducting a traffic stop on northbound Interstate 15 south of Hodge Road when 19-year-old Rafael Garcia allegedly veered onto the right shoulder and struck him. Justin McGrory later died as a result of his injuries.
Barstow CHP officers and local legislators have done their part to honor Justin McGrory, with a posthumous award for CHP officer of the year, a softball tournament held in his honor, coins featuring his image, and a portion of the highway adopted by the Barstow CHP office in his memory.
In July, the California State Assembly unanimously approved Assembly Concurrent Resolution 37, which designated a portion of Interstate 15 between Wild Wash Road and Hodge Road as the "CHP Officer Justin W. McGrory Memorial Highway." The resolution was authored by Assemblywoman Connie Conway (R-Tulare), who represents the Barstow area.
Officials with the CHP, local politicians and members of Justin McGrory's family packed the ballroom of the Harvey House as a sign naming a portion of the highway was unveiled Thursday afternoon.
For CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow, the day was bittersweet for those who knew and loved Justin McGrory because the tragedy of Justin McGrory's death was offset by the honor of having a portion of the interstate named after him. The portion of the highway named in Justin McGrory's honor will stand the test of time and will be around long after the people in the room were gone, said Farrow.
"It seems just a moment ago that Justin was here," said Farrow. "Today is the day that the state of California pays its highest tribute."
Conway said Justin McGrory died doing what he loved — serving as a CHP officer.
"I've been told that he had the ability to write a traffic ticket without ruining someone's day," said Conway, to the chuckles of those attending.
Justin McGrory served in the United States Air Force from 2001 to 2005, including a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Justin McGrory leaves behind his parents, Robert and Gina McGrory, his wife, Kelly, and four children, Erin, Cade, Liam and Kaci. Kelly McGrory gave birth to Kaci less than a month after Justin McGrory's death.
Garcia is awaiting trial for vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, willful cruelty to a child and selling or furnishing marijuana. A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Nov. 29.