San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

COVER: About six miles of Interstate 35 in San Marcos and Kyle have been renamed the Trooper Randy Wade Vetter Memorial Highway for a patrolman killed during a traffic stop near Yarrington Road in August 2000. Vetter’s widow and son, Cynthia and Robert (center), are flanked by some of the 50-plus state troopers who helped dedicate new roadside signage on Tuesday at the Old Hays County Courthouse square in downtown San Marcos. PHOTO by LAUREEN CHERNOW


STAFF REPORT

Scores of state and local law enforcement officers gathered on the Old Hays County Courthouse lawn this week to dedicate signage designating a 5.8-mile segment of Interstate 35 as the Trooper Randy Wade Vetter Memorial Highway.

Running from River Ridge Parkway in north San Marcos to Center Street in Kyle, the newly named memorial highway brackets the spot near Yarrington Road where Vetter was fatally shot during what should have been a routine traffic stop in August 2000. Melvin Hale, a Kyle area rancher known for harboring extreme anti-government views, fired a semi-automatic rifle through the windshield of Vetter’s patrol car, striking the trooper once the head. The trooper died later at an Austin hospital.

“This day is not just about highway signs, it is about taking the images of horror, devastation and loss of Randy’s death and replacing them with something positive,” Cynthia Vetter, the officer’s widow, told a crowd that included more than 50 state troopers. She was joined by her son, Robert, and Vetter’s father, Kermit.

Hale died in Texas prison in 2008 while serving a life sentence for Vetter’s death.

Legislation renaming the interstate in Vetter’s memory was carried last year by State Rep. Doug Miller, a New Braunfels Republican whose district includes Comal County. A graduate of Canyon Lake High School, Randall Vetter had recently been transferred from Comal County to Hays at the time of the shooting.

“It is so important that we recognize law enforcement and first responders for their heroism. We don’t know the totality of risk that these people are exposed to from day to day until the ultimate sacrifice is made,” Miller said.

At Tuesday’s ceremony, Vetter was also honored by Steve McCraw, the Texas Department of Public Safety director, and County Judge Bert Cobb, who spoke on behalf of the Hays County Commissioners Court. In September, commissioners appropriated $5,000 toward the $20,000 cost of erecting and maintaining the signage, a contribution matched by the Texas State Troopers Association.

The remaining $10,000 was raised from private donors including Yarrington Road Materials, Comal County Pct. 4 Constable Shane Rapp, the Canyon Lake Rotary Club, the Canyon Lake Noon Lions Club and Canyon Lake residents Wade and Christina Powell.

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