A stretch of highway about 10 miles southeast of Hastings and near the Vermillion River will bear the name of a deputy killed in the line of duty more than 27 years ago.
A section of County Road 68, also known as 200th Street East, in Ravenna Township will be renamed the Deputy Luther Klug Memorial Highway following a vote by the Dakota County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.
Klug was killed in the line of duty in the summer of 1996 when he was struck by a drunken driver while helping with a traffic stop on County Road 68, Dakota County Sheriff Joe Leko said during Tuesday’s board meeting.
The driver, a U.S. Army veteran and then-new college student, had a blood alcohol level of 0.18 two hours after the accident, more than twice the current legal limit. He was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to four years in prison.
Although 27 years have passed since Klug’s death, “not a day goes by that he is not remembered,” Leko said. The county and sheriff’s department have worked together for the past four years to make Klug’s Memorial Highway a reality, he said.
“As sheriff, I believe it is my duty to ensure that he is not forgotten,” Leko said, noting that most of Klug’s former colleagues and partners have since retired.
The call for a memorial road was spurred by the death of another Dakota County police officer, Scott Patrick of the Mendota Heights Police Department.
Patrick was shot during a traffic stop in 2014. In 2018, the city honored him and his family with its own memorial and street in Mendota Heights. Another memorial stands at the site where he was killed, just beyond the city limits in West St. Paul.
Leko said that dedication lit a spark that led Dakota County Commissioner Joe Atkins, who represents West St. Paul and South St. Paul, to ask whether other fallen officers should be considered for the same honor, and Klug’s name was quickly mentioned.
Klug, who was 36 when he died, was survived by his wife and 4-year-old son, Jordan, Leko said. After his death, Klug’s partners and friends informally adopted the boy. “He was given very protective care and attention,” Leko said.
Leko, who joined the department a year after Klug’s death, said although he never had the opportunity to get to know him, he felt like he knew him through the “Luther stories” told in the office and now with Klugs son worked together.
In 2014, Jordan Klug followed in his father’s footsteps and became deputy.
Jordan Klug, now a sergeant, spoke to the board Tuesday. “It would be an honor to dedicate this to his memory,” he said of his father.
Dakota County Commissioner Mike Slavik, who represents Hastings and Ravenna Township, said he was a senior the year Klug was killed and remembered how it shook the Hastings community.
“I remember how much this event impacted our class,” Slavik said. “This was another reminder of how precious life is,” Slavik said, calling the memorial road “long overdue.”
The Deputy Luther Klug Memorial Highway will run between Minnesota 316 and the eastern county line near the Mississippi River, depending on the county Documents. An official date for the unveiling has not yet been set, but Leko said it could be as early as November 10th.
“It’s the least we can do to honor your father,” Slavik said.