Fallen Pearl River Co. Sheriff's deputy honored with highway mem - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Fallen Pearl River Co. Sheriff's deputy honored with highway memorial

PEARL RIVER COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Thursday morning friends and family gathered to remember and respect the life of a Pearl River County Deputy.

Deputy Sheriff Len J. Rowell was shot and killed in 1994, when he stopped a stolen vehicle, and in his honor, MDOT has come together with the state, county and community to dedicate a section of Interstate 59 in Pearl River County.

"He was tragically killed in the line of duty almost 21 years ago. It's been a long time but the people who are here today and the fact that we're having this dedication service, is a testament to the county. And this area will never forget the service of Deputy Rowell and what he meant to his community and what he means to his family," District 40 Mississippi State Senator Angela Hill said.

Deputy Rowell's death was a community tragedy, and even two decades later, close friends say they can still feel the numbness of shock and surprise.

"I was on my way to school and that was the first time God laid a challenge on my life that I was not prepared for," Pearl River County Mayor Brad Necaise said in tears.

It was a time no one was prepared for, but it's now a fitting time to recognize the service and the ultimate sacrifice of the young man who lost his life at the age of 24.

"It's long overdue and it's amazing for the family to finally see this come to a reality for that highway to be named after Len," Doug Rowell said as he spoke on behalf of the Rowell family.

In lieu of the recent tragedy in Hattiesburg, we can't help but be reminded of the dangers our law enforcement officers face while on duty, and how the tragic moments bring communities closer together.

"When the communities come together like that, it refreshes us. It's very refreshing to see that they come together and support law enforcement and the services. It's a great feeling," Rowell said.

"Matthew 5:9 reads 'blessed are the peacemakers. For they will be called children of God and Deputy Rowell will always be a peace maker and a child of God'. Lieutenant Governor of Mississippi Tate Reeves quoted.

Now all those that travel down the stretch of road on Interstate 59, will remember the legacy of Deputy Rowell.

The Deputy Len J. Rowell Memorial Highway can be found on the southbound lane of Interstate 59 in Pearl River County near mile-marker 35.

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