WATERLOO, Ill. – Illinois State Police dedicated a section of Route 3 on Thursday in honor of Trooper Nicholas Hopkins, who was killed in the line of duty in August 2019.

The Trooper Nick Hopkins Memorial Highway runs from Kaskaskia to GG roads in Waterloo, Illinois. He was a 10-year veteran of the state police.

“Once someone is gone, you realize how much you miss the little things,” said Whitney Hopkins, Trooper Hopkins’ widow.

Trooper Hopkins and other state police were executing a search warrant at a home in East St. Louis on the morning of Aug. 23, 2019, when Hopkins was fatally wounded. He was 33.

Christopher Grant was convicted of the murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison. 

Trooper Nick Hopkins Memorial Highway along Illinois Route 3

“Nick touched so many lives and it continues to amaze me how many lives are still impacted by him,” Whitney Hopkins said.

Thursday morning, first responders from around the area met at Life Community Church in Columbia for a celebration of Trooper Hopkins’ life.

“We brought our ladder truck out to honor Nick Hopkins,” said Chief Mike Roediger, Columbia Fire Protection District. “He was a valued member of our community in Waterloo and Columbia. His brother is a police officer in our community. We’re just here to honor his memory and to honor the state police and our police departments out.” 

The service concluded at the church by midday. A steady stream of police cars and other law enforcement made their way to the stretch of Route 3 now baring Hopkins’ name.

Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith said it was important to get this dedication for the slain state trooper.

“Nine thousand people will see the sign heading south every day. Twelve thousand at night will go past Nick’s sign, lest we forget,” he said. “We will always remember Nick Hopkins and that sign – that’s there for that.” 

Whitney said the sign is recognition of his service to the community.

“Our family will never be the same, but we are so grateful for the memories we made and the support we receive every day from the people we love,” she said.