Late trooper's parents humbled by show of support at dedication ceremony

Late trooper's parents humbled by show of support at dedication ceremony

FARMER CITY — When Bob and Rebecca Albin walked into Tuesday's ceremony dedicating a section of Interstate 74 in the memory of their son, state Trooper Ryan Albin, they were not surprised to see the room filled with more than 50 state troopers in uniform.

"This is such a humbling honor," Rebecca Albin said after the dedication of a 5-mile section of I-74 as "Trooper Ryan Albin Memorial Highway" during a special ceremony in Farmer City that included Gov. Bruce Rauner, state Sen. Chapin Rose, state Rep. John Cabello, Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz and family and friends — more than 100 people altogether.

"He considered it a privilege to be a state trooper," Rebecca Albin said. "He enjoyed the police family."

The section of I-74 dedicated in his memory is the same area where Trooper Albin's police vehicle was involved in a crash June 28, 2017, when it hit the back of a box truck that had slowed as it was approaching a construction zone. Mr. Albin, a 37-year-old father of two young children, died several hours later at Carle Foundation Hospital; his K-9 partner, Biko, survived.

Rauner started his remarks by thanking all of the state troopers at the ceremony, calling Trooper Ryan "one of our fallen heroes," then spoke from the podium directly to Trooper Albin's parents, whom he has gotten to know well since the fatal accident.

"Cherish his dedication, his bravery, his courage and his sacrifice, every day. Today, we took a major step in doing that," Rauner said, looking at the Albin family. "All of us who travel across Illinois can remember Ryan and his service and keep his name in our hearts."

After the half-hour ceremony at Trinity Community Fellowship Church in Farmer City, Rauner said everyone should remember the heroism and bravery of Illinois state troopers and all police officers.

"They put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. Too many of them are killed in the line of duty, whether through traffic accidents or other incidents. We need to remember them and cherish their sacrifice," said Rauner, who added that he has been blessed to get to know the Albin family well and called them inspirational. "They are so strong and courageous."

Schmitz thanked the legislators who made the dedication possible, saying that the Illinois State Police lost a family member on that horrible day that many will not forget.

He described Trooper Albin as a hard-working, dedicated officer who was known for his work with his K-9 partner finding drugs and enforcing driving-under-the-influence laws and for being a mentor to other troopers.

"There's no better," he said. "We will not forget his sacrifice and will continue to honor his legacy."

A brown sign with white letters reading "Trooper Ryan Albin Memorial Highway" was displayed on stage during the ceremony that ended with words from Trooper Albin's father, who thanked all "you guys in brown."

"We thank you for this honor," he said, choking up. "Thank you very much."