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Dedication set for Shelley Memorial Highway

Dedication set for Shelley Memorial Highway

April 20th, 2017 by Bob Watson in News

This photo published Feb. 15, 2017, shows the California base of Mid-Mo Ambulance District, located on Hartley Street, at the edge of the southern California city limits along Highway 87, prior to the new facility's opening.

Photo by David Wilson /News Tribune.

Almost a year after lawmakers authorized it, the Phyllis Hunter Shelley Memorial Highway is being dedicated.

The delay was caused by the actual wording on the signs — Shelley's widower, George Shelley, wanted to honor her work as an emergency medical technician, but the law passed last year didn't include that language.

Shelley said in a recent email the "final pieces have fallen into place and everything on my end is a good to go for the dedication of the sign."

The dedication for the "Mid-Mo EMT Phyllis Hunter Shelley Memorial Highway" will be at 11 a.m. May 13 — the day before Mother's Day — at the new Mid-Mo Ambulance base located just north of the U.S. 50 and Missouri 87 interchange.

Phyllis D. Hunter Shelley was killed Dec. 14, 1987, when the ambulance she was driving skidded out of control on a snow-covered U.S. 50 and overturned, about 3 miles west of California.

Because of equipment problems when the emergency run began, Phyllis Shelley wasn't wearing her seat belt and was thrown from the ambulance.

She and a co-worker were responding to an accident about 4 miles west of California when the ambulance crash occurred at about 9 a.m. that Monday. The co-worker was using her seat belt and received only minor injuries in the ambulance accident.

Under state law, if the Legislature designates a stretch of highway as a memorial highway, the signage to mark that highway must be paid for with private money.

Last summer, George Shelley and his daughter, Phyllis Leneen Shelley Stutzman, now 38, asked for help raising money to pay for the signs.

Stutzman launched a GoFundMe account that raised $1,625 on its first day, while George Shelley received donations from individuals, including those connected with the Masonic and emergency services communities.

The two efforts raised more than the needed $2,400.

In an Aug. 22 letter to the Missouri Department of Transportation, explaining why he insisted on including the "EMT" designation on the memorial signs, George Shelley wrote: "Phyllis was the first and hopefully last EMT killed in the line of duty in Moniteau County, and I wanted the sign not only to be for her, but also for all the EMT/Paramedics who perform a dangerous job that is often overlooked by the general public."

Naming a portion of U.S. 50 in Shelley's honor comes more than 29 years after she was killed, and more than 15 years after the National EMS Memorial added her name to its "Tree of Life Memorial."