Highway 51 bridge over Yellow River in Allamakee County dedicated in memory of fallen Iowa State Trooper Ted Benda

Dedication ceremony in honor of fallen State Trooper and Allamakee County native ... Family, friends and a number of law enforcement colleagues gathered at the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) maintenance garage location on the south edge of Waukon Monday, October 16 for a dedication ceremony naming the State Highway 51 bridge over Yellow River in Allamakee County the Trooper Ted Benda Memorial Bridge. Trooper Benda lost his life in a single-vehicle accident on that same highway in October of 2021 while responding to a call to assist Clayton County authorities.

Dedicated in his honor ... The sign pictured above is one of two that will be placed on the north and south approaches to the State Highway 51 bridge over Yellow River north of Postville in honor of fallen Iowa State Patrol Trooper Ted Benda. The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) is responsible for putting the signs in place and was scheduled to do so shortly after the October 16 dedication ceremony held at the Waukon DOT location.

Family pride and gratitude ... Members of the family of fallen Iowa State Patrol Trooper Ted Benda gather near one of the signs that will be placed at each end of the State Highway 51 bridge over Yellow River nearly four miles north of Postville designating the bridge as Trooper Ted Benda Memorial Bridge. Left to right are Madilyn, Sylvia, Holly and Vivyan Benda and Marsha, Avery and Lawrence Benda.

Gathering to honor one of their own, family, friends and law enforcement colleagues of fallen Iowa State Patrol Trooper and Allamakee County native Ted Benda were in attendance at a dedication ceremony held Monday, October 16 to designate the State Highway 51 bridge that spans Yellow River, approximately four miles north of Postville, as Trooper Ted Benda Memorial Bridge.

Lieutenant Brian Senne, Commander of Iowa State Patrol District 10 headquartered out of Oelwein - where Trooper Benda had been serving since transferring back to his native northeast Iowa area in 2017, said during the ceremony that this was the 12th such bridge dedication named in the “long-standing tradition of the Iowa State Patrol to name a bridge after a Trooper who has paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving and protecting Iowans.” Trooper Benda lost his life October 20, 2021, several days after an October 14 single-vehicle crash on that same Highway 51, just a couple miles further north of the bridge now named in his honor.

Lt. Senne further shared that the location of the bridge dedication was “chosen to serve as a reminder to current law enforcement and the public of the exceptional work Trooper Benda did daily, and as a benchmark for future law enforcement in public service to achieve. Trooper Benda will be remembered as a leader in traffic safety and a valued member of the department.”

He also read aloud the Resolution passed by the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors in May of this year that made the dedication of the bridge possible. The dedication ceremony was held inside the maintenance garage at the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) location on the south edge of Waukon, the entity responsible for placing the two signs on the north and south approaches to the bridge.

In his presentation during the dedication ceremony, Iowa State Patrol Chaplain Ed Mast said he has fond memories of Trooper Benda, enjoying the time that he spent with him and being thankful for the time Trooper Benda spent with Mast’s own son and the encouragement he offered him in his own pursuit of a career in law enforcement. “Proverbs 10:7 says, ‘the memory of the just is blessed,’ and surely, like so many others, I am blessed to have known Ted and spend time with him. His memory is just, and will forever be blessed,” Chaplain Mast shared.

In asking all in attendance to join him in prayer, Chaplain Mast further offered, “May Ted’s memory continue to be a blessing for generations to come and for those that see his name on this sign and remember that a sacrifice was given for the safety and prosperity of this state. May all that see this sign and cross the bridge that it represents read his name and remember, with a heart of gratitude, his sacrifice.”

Major Troy Bailey, who is the Iowa State Patrol Field Operations Commander based in Des Moines, noted, “I think it speaks volumes to see the number of people here to come and pay their respects to Ted. That says a lot about the community, that says a lot about the family, and it says a lot about Ted and who he was.”

Also reflecting on the signs that will mark the dedication of the Highway 51 bridge in Trooper Benda’s honor, Major Bailey said, “What’s special about today is that these signs are going to be put out on the roadway and the people that get to travel across our roadways, across our state, they are going to see these signs, and my hope is that’s going to cause pause for them to wonder ‘Who was Ted Benda? What was he about?’. Hopefully that’s an opportunity for them to learn about Ted, to learn about his service and his sacrifice to the State of Iowa. I think this is one more piece that helps us move on. There’s going to be a lot of people who see these, and they’re going to respect what Ted did, and I think they are going to grow to have a better understanding of who he was and what he was about.”

Offering reflection on Trooper Benda, Major Bailey shared, “Ted was about making Iowa a better place, he was about making Iowa a safe place, and oftentimes we take that for granted. But these are the types of things that give us that subtle reminder that we can’t take anything for granted, that every day is special, and that we have the ability to make an impact. And there’s no doubt that Ted made a huge impact on people’s lives, day in and day out, and the beauty of this is that he will continue to make that positive impact for years to come.”

In closing the ceremony, Lt. Senne summarized the meaning behind the dedication of the bridge in Trooper Benda’s honor. “This bridge will stand firm forever as a reminder to all who pass over it of the ultimate sacrifice of Trooper Ted Benda and his commitment to service for the citizens of Iowa,” he stated.

Following the ceremony, Trooper Benda’s wife, Holly, expressed appreciation that she and their four daughters, Madilyn, Avery, Vivyan and Sylvia, share in regard to the dedication and all the support they have received. “The girls and I are very grateful for the Iowa State Patrol honoring Ted in this way,” Holly relayed. “We as a family continue to honor, love and respect him and all he did for our family. It warms and comforts our heart knowing others still remember and honor him as well. These signs are just another significant way he will be remembered in our community for many years to come.”

Similarly, Trooper Benda’s parents, Lawrence and Marsha Benda of Waukon, expressed their appreciation as well. “As parents and members of our community, it was great to see a remembrance of Ted,” they remarked. “He was dedicated to his family and community. It was great to see a bridge renamed at a place he would have enjoyed fishing with his girls. Thanks also to the extended support of the State Patrol and local law enforcement, and also to the County Supervisors for approving the renaming of this bridge. The support shown over the past years given to our family reinforces our pride in this community. Thanks to all.”

In being the 12th such bridge dedicated in honor of a fallen State Trooper, the dedication in honor of Trooper Benda was actually the second of that same day. A dedication event was also held earlier that day in Independence renaming the U.S. Highway 20 bridge over the Wapsipinicon River near Independence the Sgt. Jim Smith Memorial Bridge in honor of Sgt. Smith, another District 10 Trooper who also lost his life in 2021 when the 27-year veteran of the State Patrol was shot during an April stand-off with a suspect who had barricaded himself in his home in Grundy Center.

Following more than a month of investigation, the Iowa State Patrol reported that the October 14, 2021 single-vehicle crash that claimed the life of 37-year-old Trooper Benda involved the officer trying to avoid a deer that had crossed Highway 51 he was traveling at a high rate of speed in responding to a call from Clayton County law enforcement for assistance with a wanted male subject. The report indicates that Trooper Benda could not regain control of his vehicle following the evasive action, resulting in the 11:30 p.m. crash that critically injured him and ultimately claimed his life October 20.

Even in his passing, it has been noted that Trooper Benda continued to serve others, as he was an organ donor whose ultimate sacrifice ended up giving new life to others in need. His career in law enforcement spanned 16 years, including his last five years with the Iowa State Patrol in both District 8 out of Mason City and District 10 out of Oelwein.