Fallen officer receives highway recognition

JONES COUNTY, Miss. - The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) dedicated a section of Highway 15 in Jones County as Marc Lee Whatley Memorial Highway.

The 2015 Session of the Mississippi Legislature designated a segment of Mississippi Highway 15 in Jones County as Marc Lee Whatley Memorial Highway beginning at the intersection of Trace Road north to Mississippi Highway 537.

Chief Tyrone Stewart with the Laurel Police Department said Whatley deserved this Memorial Highway.

"You hate to use the word, 'very legit', but Marc Whatley was a very legit officer. He was truly dedicated, hard working officer, that everyone was proud of" said Chief Stewart.

Marc Lee Whatley attended Shady Grove Elementary School and graduated from West Jones High School in 1987. He joined the U.S. Army upon graduation. After five years of service, he began working for the Laurel Police Department.

Chief Stewart said he was close to the Whatley family, "Marc was like my brother and to see his daughter Lauren who is now 18, I used to hold her when she was just one years old in my arm. It is very heartwarming to be here with the rest of the family."

Whatley later went on to work with the MS Bureau of Narcotics in Meridian.

He was planning to graduate with a Criminal Justice degree from The University of Southern Mississippi in December 1998.

Whatley died while on duty with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics on August 20, 1998, in a car accident while chasing a narcotics suspect. He left behind his wife Lila Whatley and two children.

MDOT Commissioner Tom King said, "Anytime you put that uniform on sometimes in today's world you can be a target, I feel like we have to pray for them everyday and tell them how much we appreciate what they do for us."

“This memorial will remind all of us who travel this section of highway in Jones County of the sacrifices made by men and women in law enforcement" said Commissioner King.

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