Marker honors officer killed in Lowell crash in 1999
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent May 3, 2014 7:24PM
Barbara Mitchell, mother of fallen officer Paul W. Mitchell, talks to Celina Weatherwax from Congressman Pete Visclosky's office during the road dedication at Ind. 2 and Austin Avenue in honor of her son. | Carrie Napoleon~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 5, 2014 6:16AM
LOWELL — Family, friends and fellow police gathered Saturday at Indiana 2 and Austin Avenue to dedicate Officer Paul W. Mitchell Memorial Drive in remembrance the Lake County Sheriff’s Department officer who lost his life there 15 years ago.
Mitchell was killed in a single-car accident while responding to a call for service at 4:30 a.m. Saturday, June 12, 1999. He was 24 and had been with the department one year and four days at the time of his death.
His mother and father, Barbara and Ronny Mitchell of Griffith, and his sister, Cheryl Santucci of Crown Point, sat in the front row, their emotions showing as one by one presenters spoke of the sacrifice the young officer made in the line of duty.
“We are so honored. I can’t put in to words how much it means to us,” Santucci said, fighting back tears. “It’s been 15 years and it’s almost like yesterday.”
She said her brother was doing what he wanted to do since he was a boy when he lost his life at that corner.
“He died in uniform. He fulfilled his dreams,” Santucci said.
The officer’s parents were equally moved by the ceremony and the memorial that will forever mark the sacrifice.
“We are so proud of him. It’s so wonderful they are honoring him like this. Barbara Mitchell said the family was surprised and touched when they were notified last fall the town of Lowell, spearheaded by Councilman Donald Parker, and the Lake County Sheriff’s Department wanted to remember her son in such a way.
“Not a day goes by we don’t think about and miss him,” his mother said.
Buncich told the crowd it was right to return to the site, rename it and claim it as a constant reminder of the loss of the young officer.
“Every time you drive it, jog it or walk it, remember that while you slept last night, there were men and women watching over you, just as Paul did,” Buncich said.
The dedication was sponsored by the sheriff’s department, Fraternal Order of Police Chris Anton Lodge 125, Lake County Police Association Local No. 73 AFL/CIO and the Town of Lowell.