MERRILLVILLE | "We should never forget,” Lake County Sheriff John Bunich told those gathered to greet 12 bicyclists on the 11th annual COPS Cycling 4 Survivors ride.
The group paused at the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza on Friday on their 1,000-mile journey around Indiana to honor fallen officers, including Lake County sheriff’s Correctional Officer Britney Meux.
“It is unfortunate that we lost one of our own,” Buncich said.
Meux, 25, was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while jogging with three fellow officers March 6, 2012, near the Lake County Government Complex.
A Calumet College of St. Joseph student, Meux was scheduled to graduate in May 2012 with a degree in public safety management. She was a 2004 graduate of Lew Wallace High School and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who worked for the Lake County Sheriff’s Department for three years.
The bicyclists were greeted by the Pipes and Drums of the Lake County Sheriff and a color guard.
Meux’s former fiance and their 22-month old daughter attended a solemn ceremony where her Officer Down Memorial Page information was read by Merrillville Police Officer Tim Finnerty, the only ride participant from Lake County.
A moment of silence was followed by the Pipes and Drums playing “Amazing Grace.”
Finnerty, who has participated in 10 rides, said honoring a local officer gave this year’s ride special meaning.
Buncich praised the bicyclists’ efforts.
“They just do so much good work raising money and paying honor and respect to those officers who were killed in the line of duty,” Buncich said.
The truck accompanying the bicyclists features the images of Meux and Indiana Department of Corrections Officer Timothy Betts, who died Aug. 26, 2012. Along the way it has accumulated many signatures and messages under their photos.
At 8 a.m. today, the cyclists will ride west on U.S. 30 to U.S. 41 for 65 miles to Kentland, stopping at the St. John Police Department. There, the group will honor the memory of St. John Town Marshal John Larimer, who was killed in the line of duty March 30, 1969.
The final Lake County stop is 11 a.m. at Schoop's Hamburgers in Lowell for lunch.
The memory of Lake County Sheriff Chief Deputy Gary Martin, who was struck and killed while on the COPS Cycling 4 Survivors ride Aug. 22, 2006, will be honored Sunday at the crash site on Ind. 63 near Kentland. His widow Olga Martin, who also attended Friday’s ceremony, will be present.
The purpose of the ride is to honor Indiana police officers killed in the line of duty and raise awareness and funds for COPS, or Concerns of Police Survivors.