'Long-overdue' passage of resolution honoring officers expected

CICERO — Legislation to honor police officers involved in a bloody gunfight 39 years ago on Interstate 57 south of Paxton is expected to be passed by the Illinois Senate’s transportation committee in upcoming weeks, according to the committee’s chairman.

A spokesman for Senate transportation committee Chairman Martin Sandoval, D-Cicero, told the Ford County Record last week that House Joint Resolution 21 — which was introduced by an area lawmaker more than a year ago to name the overpass where the shootout took place as the “McCarter-Caisse-Vice-Hale Memorial Overpass” — would be passed by the committee soon.

“The bill will pass,” the spokesman said.

Sandoval did not immediately return messages seeking additional comment.

State Rep. Tom Bennett, R-Gibson City, introduced HJR21 on Feb. 6, 2017, and a month later the House’s Transportation: Regulation, Roads Committee voted 11-0 to recommend the bill be adopted. In May 2017, the House then voted 112-0 to adopt it. The resolution then stalled in the Senate.

State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, said last month that for the past year, Sandoval had refused to have the committee hear any pieces of legislation naming roads or bridges in memory of someone. More recently, Barickman said, Sandoval has “lifted his stays” on such matters, but now he is “imposing other limitations on what he will allow to be heard.”

The overpass over I-57, located at 200 North Road south of Paxton, is where on April 7, 1979, a shootout with members of a Michigan family claimed the lives of state trooper Michael McCarter, Paxton patrolman William Caisse and civilian Donald Vice, who was riding with McCarter, his brother-in-law. Paxton patrolman Larry Hale was wounded in the gun battle but recovered.

Passage of the legislation is “long-ovedue,” according to Jodi Barth, a crime-scene technician for state police who processed the scene and wrote a book about the incident called “CSI Old School.”

“These guys, they answered the call,” said Barth. “And what people don’t realize is that just between trooper McCarter, officer Caisse and Donald Vice, in less than five minutes 13 children were fatherless and three women were widows.”

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