I-40 bridge named in honor of Clark
By Jeff Harrison
The memory of James Everett Clark III is alive in the hearts of loved ones and first responders.
And now, it will be remembered by thousands of people every day.
State and local leaders dedicated the I-40 overpass bridge at SE 29th Street in honor of the fallen Midwest City firefighter. The sign was formally unveiled in front of family, friends, firefighters and dignitaries Wednesday morning during a ceremony at the Reed Conference Center.
“A legacy is not what you leave behind, but who you leave behind and what they think of you,” said Mayor Matt Dukes. “This is Jim’s legacy. The friends and family that he left behind.”
Clark died in the line of duty on Aug. 8, 1999 while working an accident on I-40. Emergency crews were helping with a four-vehicle accident, when Clark was struck by a separate vehicle.
Clark was a 15-year veteran of the department and held the rank of senior firefighter.
State Rep. Roger Ford earlier this year passed legislation to dedicate the bridge in Clark’s honor. The first-year lawmaker said he took action after hearing from Annie Beabout, a constituent.
“It was an honor for me to stand in front of the House and present this and to do it for this family and the firefighters,” Ford said. “And it really represents all the people in uniform. When danger is near, they don’t do what most people do and run away. They run to it. And that’s what Jim (Clark) was doing that day.”
Ford presented a citation from the State of Oklahoma to Clark’s widow, Janice Killgore.
State Sen. Jack Fry served alongside Clark for several years on the department. Fry said it was a privilege to serve with Clark and called him a brother, a friend, a colleague, but most of all a firefighter.
“He was a firefighter’s firefighter,” Fry said. “He liked being in charge and was a real hands on guy.”
Fry said he thinks about the accident and Clark every time he drives along the stretch of I-40.
“I can still see the eye contact when he yelled at me,” Fry said about the accident. “And I could see him shielding the girl that he was working on. He did what came naturally. And that was to protect and serve.”
He offered comforting words to the family, and thanked them for allowing Clark to serve. He also thanked Ford for presenting the legislation.
“I know how hard it is to live without someone that you truly love. You think about them every day. It’s just a part of real life,” said Fry whose teenage daughter was killed in a car wreck in 1991.
After Fry’s speech, the family unveiled a replica of the sign. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation has already placed the sign along I-40.
Madison Clark, daughter of Jim, also shared memories of her father and thanked everyone for their support over the past 18 years and in the future. The city also dedicated Fire Station No. 2 in honor of Clark.
“I can still remember hearing that voicemail. I can still see all the people lining the hallways to the ICU. I can feel his hands in the bed against those white hospital sheets. And I can still smell the abundance of food and flowers that flowed into our house. Here we are 18 years later, and my memories will never fade. But it’s humbling to see that the city’s hasn’t either,” Madison said.