June 4, 2014
Family, friends and fellow Georgia State Patrol officers gathered together last Thursday at the Upson-Lee Fine Arts Center to pay tribute to a fallen comrade, Trooper W.G. “Andy” Andrews, Jr. #738, who passed away after sustaining injuries in a wreck while on duty in May 1977. At the ceremony, Commission Chairman Rusty Blackston proclaimed Thursday, May 29, 2014 as “W.G. ‘Andy’ Andrews, Jr. Day” for not only his leadership, but also the positive mark he made in traffic enforcement as he proudly served Upson, Talbot, Meriwether and surrounding counties. Trooper Andrews was also honored earlier in the day with a portion of Georgia Highway 41 being renamed in his memory.
On May 7, 1977, Trooper Andrews was involved in the pursuit of a speeding motorist on Georgia Highway 41 in Talbot County when he lost control of his patrol car and collided with a tree. He passed away on May 8, 1977 as a result from injuries he received during the crash; at the time leaving behind his wife Sandi, son Matt, parents Gaines and Bessie Andrews, one sister, Kassie Andrews and one brother Neal Andrews.
While he was born in Panama City, Florida, he spent much of his time growing up in Thomaston, Georgia and was a 1963 graduate of R.E. Lee High School. Before becoming involved in law enforcement, Andrews graduated from the University of Georgia School of Pharmacy in 1969 and enlisted in the Army National Guard in 1970 where he achieved the rank of Lieutenant. However, he had his heart set on becoming a State Trooper and graduated from trooper school with the 45th class in 1974. He was stationed at Post 34 in Manchester, Georgia.
During the ceremony, a video tribute was shown in which several friends and fellow officers shared memories of their friend and praised him for being an exceptional Trooper.
Butch Rozel, a retired Senior Trooper from Post 34 in Manchester, was the radio operator the night of Andrews’ accident and noted it was one of the longest and hardest nights he ever spent on patrol. He explained the months after the accident were also extra hard on the entire post because nothing like that had ever happened before or really since. Rozel stated that Andrews had a work ethic that was something to be admired and he was an extraordinary trooper who brought with him an abundance of knowledge to Post 34. He noted Andrews’ portrait has hung in the lobby since his passing and will always remain there.
Emmett Bentley, Retired Senior Trooper from Post 26 in Thomaston, stated he would not have been a Trooper if it were not for Andrews. Bentley met Andrews while working at a service station across from the jail in Talbotton and the pair quickly became friends. He was able to go on a ride-a-long one night with Andrews, and stated that was all it took to convince him that he wanted to be a Trooper as well. He started going on ride-a-longs with him every chance he got and was in the car with Andrews when he wrecked his patrol car. On the video, Bentley acknowledged what a profound effect his friend had on his life.
“I try to pattern the way I trooper by the way that Andy troopered,” said Bentley. “I hope that during my career he would have been proud of me had he still been alive.”
Representative Debbie Buckner of District 137 stated she was first approached by Bentley about dedicating the highway in memory of Trooper Andrews a few years ago. She apologized for it taking a while to make this happen, but noted she was glad to be able to read the resolution that day, noting that local representative Johnnie Caldwell, Jr. was also very supportive of the matter.
Representative Buckner read the resolution for the road dedication to the crowd which praised Trooper Andrews’ extraordinary devotion to duty, outstanding loyalty, fine leadership and meticulous attention to detail in all of his duties. She concluded stating it is now resolved and enacted by the Georgia General Assembly, that Georgia Highway 41 from the northern city limits of Talbotton to the southern city limit of Woodland as the “TFC William Gaines Andrews, Jr. Memorial Highway.”
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1