Songy honored by family, friends

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 3, 2004

By LEONARD GRAY – Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – Rick Hylander, the “top traffic cop” of the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office, is determined that his friend, the late Edmond “Skipper” Songy, will never be forgotten.

On July 9, 2002, Songy was directing traffic off westbound Interstate 10 and onto Belle Terre Boulevard to bypass traffic from a fatality accident a quarter-mile ahead of his position. His normal job was working as a code enforcement officer, but he did provide backup to deputies, when called upon to do so.

“I have to be there for them,” Songy would often tell his wife, Sybil.

Songy, 60, of Greenwood Drive, LaPlace, was wearing a reflective vest with his uniform, and stood with his marked police unit, with flashing lights when he was struck and killed by a 1997 Chevrolet Suburban.

His wife, Sybil Songy, remembers the day of her husband’s death, recalling he left at 7:30 a.m., and that she heard from him briefly over his cell phone. At 9:40 a.m., she tried calling him, but he was already on duty on the Interstate, his phone left behind in his unit.

At 9:43 a.m., according to the incident records, Songy was struck down.

At 10:20 a.m. that day, Sybil Songy remembered when Klibert and Road Division Commander Rick Hylander came to deliver the bad news.

The driver, Stewart Juneau, 56, of New Orleans, was arrested and cited with careless operation of a motor vehicle and failure to obey directions of a police officer. Later at his arraignment, he entered a plea of guilty to reckless operation of a motor vehicle. Eventually, he paid a $200 fine, plus $108 court costs and received six months inactive probation.

Songy was added to the the Law Enforcement Memorial Wall in New Orleans on May 9, 2002. Three days later, his name was added to the Law Enforcement Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

Songy was also memorialized in July 2003, when the St. John the Baptist Parish Service Center, at the corner of Airline Highway and Main Street in LaPlace, was officially rededicated in his memory.

Soon after the accident which took Songy’s life, Hylander added a roadside cross on the highway shoulder, near the Belle Terre exit, number 206. Not long ago, the cross itself was accidently knocked down.

Last week, Hylander replaced it, keeping with the high esteem he feels for Songy and his dedication to duty. Though he plans to retire this summer, he also plans to maintain Songy’s roadside cross.

Skipper Songy was born in San Diego, Calif., and the family soon relocated to St. John the Baptist Parish. His siblings are Kenneth, Tommy, Timmy and Kathleen.