The Jennifer Lea Briggs and Heather Wilson Memorial Highway was dedicated Saturday morning in front of families, colleagues, first responders and friends.
The highway dedication helped remember Jennifer Lea Briggs and Heather Wilson, who were tragically killed in a vehicle accident on Monday, October 27, 2014, while commuting from Stillwater to Guthrie. Both teachers were in their first year of teaching at Guthrie Junior High School. Just months before, the two friends had graduated from Oklahoma State University.
The dedication took place near the dedicated highway sign at the intersection of Highway 33 and US-177 near the town of Perkins. The second dedicated highway sign is located for eastbound traffic just into Payne County and east of Coyle Road.
“This is a way to honor them for the future,” Brigg’s uncle Mark Mitchell said. “When Jennifer and Heather got their (teaching) job, there was no other love that they had. Tragically, that was taken away from them.”
With Jennifer’s mother Robin Briggs next to his side, Guthrie Superintendent Dr. Mike Simpson says the Oct. 27, 2014 date is still etched in his mind.
“It was a sunny day – much like today – that turned dark. These two ladies were special to so many people,” Simpson said who knew both families before coming to Guthrie.
The superintendent added he appreciated the families for the way they have handled the situation with “grace.”
“Their memory will forever be with us.”
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Robin Briggs said the teacher’s families did not know each other until that October date and shared both families want to see the end of driving under the influence (DUI).
“I would love to say let’s end DUI because that is what killed our girls,” Briggs said as she fought back her emotions. “He made that choice to get in the car and drive that morning. Please, for Jennifer and Heather, please think before you get behind the wheel.”
Laboratory tests confirmed Rocky Steven Baca was under the influence of synthetic marijuana at the time of the accident when he crossed the center line resulting in a head on collision. The two women died at the scene.
Baca pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree manslaughter and sentenced to 20 years in the Department of Corrections with the first 12 to be served in custody and the last eight years on probation. In addition, Bace must pay restitution to the victims’ families in the amount of $31,782.96. Related article: Man pleads guilty in killing of two Guthrie teachers; sentenced to 20 years