Smithfield bridge named for fallen officer

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The sign was unveiled Friday

A bridge in Smithfield was dedicated to fallen Johnston County Sheriff's Deputy C. Paul West Friday morning.

The US 70 Business/Market Street Bridge runs over the Neuse River in downtown Smithfield.

The Johnston County Sheriff's Office, along with the NC Department of Transportation, held the ceremony. NC Department of Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson and Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell were among those who spoke.

West's two sons, two sisters, extended family, and community members attended. His sons unveiled the sign bearing their father's name.

His sister, Angie West, said her brother used to fish on that bridge and taught his son Clendon how to fish there.

"I think this gives us a happy place," Angie West said. "It's not a place with those dates on it. It's not a sad place. This is a happy occasion and a happy place with good memories of him fishing and Clendon fishing, of us driving over the bridge when we were here in town all together."

Deputy West was shot and killed in the line of duty 20 years ago when he was 27 years old. He was at a mobile home park with another deputy verifying the address of a man wanted on several warrants when he was shot on September 11, 1995. The shooter was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to death one year later.

"I hope people remember other officers and that there's other officers still doing that job and still putting their life on the line for them every day and that other officers see those signs and it reminds them to not be complacent and reminds them to keep themselves safe," Angie West said.

The bridge connects West Smithfield to downtown and Clayton. It has a wide pedestrian path for walking and biking.

"The bridge was replaced in 2013 and it's got some features to it that I think are very positive for this community," NC Department of Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson said.

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