At the end of May of this year, Lake Stevens resident and Washington State Trooper Sean O'Connell, 38, was killed while directing traffic after the Skagit Bridge collapse.
O'Connell was hit by a box truck in Conway, Washington on the corner of Fir Island Rd. and Main St. He was on his work motorcycle at the time of the collision.
Lake Stevens City-Councilman-Elect Sam Low knew of O'Connell and his family and felt inspired to find a way to celebrate O'Connell and his service to the people of Washington.
"I had never personally talked with Trooper O'Connell; however, we lived near each other and our kids go to the same school," Low said. "I had also seen him at the WSP office. I've learned so much more about him and his character since his passing."
Low and his wife Mariah got to be part of O'Connell's motorcade because of her affiliation with the WSP, she works as a forensic scientist for the State Patrol.
"After Trooper O'Connell's death, I was honored and humbled to be a part of the motorcade and funeral. That weekend I spoke with several of our Lake Stevens Police Department Officers and other law enforcement officers that live in the city and collectively we agreed that some type of memorial would be appropriate," Low said. "The next step was to approach the City Council in June with my proposed ideas for a memorial. The council was then able to move forward and adopt the necessary resolution that would allow a street to be renamed in memory of a first responder from our area."
The city was intrigued with the idea and helped Low move forward.
"Sam came to the city right after Trooper O'Connell passed away to see what the options were," Lake Stevens City Administrator Jan Berg said. "He wondered if he could get his name on the War Memorial or if an elementary school could be named after him. He was looking for options."
After considering different ideas, Low presented the idea of naming a street after the trooper to the city council. At the time, the city didn't have any type of policy in place for a street naming, only for naming a park.
"Council directed staff to draft a policy on street naming so our planning staff looked at other communities and merged those ideas with, what we thought would work here, Berg explained. "That was presented to council for adoption and was passed unanimously in September."
The street that was chosen is 83rd St. SE and 20th Street SE.
"Sam has spoken with the widow and they live in that neighborhood. That was the road Trooper O'Connell took to work everyday," Berg said. "That street is part of the city's economic development sub-area plan. We may have to move it later but for now it looks fine."
"The streets will maintain their current names as to not create any confusion," Low said.
The city has ordered the new sign and are planning to have a dedication after the first of the year.
"It's important that all of the first responders and their families in Lake Stevens recognize that as a city we care about them and their sacrifices do not go unnoticed or unappreciated," Low said. "This is just one sign but behind it is a lot of meaning for many in our community."
O'Connell was a 16-year veteran with the Washington State Patrol and had been named Trooper of the year in his district at one time. O'Connell is survived by his wife and two small children.