Governor signs Spencer Chauvin bridge bill

Published 12:15 am Saturday, June 24, 2017

LAPLACE — The three-mile bridge that spans the Reserve Relief Canal is going to be named “Spencer Chauvin Memorial Bridge.”

Chauvin, 36, who served as St. John the Baptist Parish District Fire chief, was struck and killed Aug. 28 by an unlicensed driver while working a crash scene on the bridge, which is part of Interstate 10.

Chauvin’s wife Jennifer, daughter Jade and son Jude, as well as many other supporters, joined Gov. John Bel Edwards for the formal bill signing in Baton Rouge officially naming the bridge for Chauvin.

Jennifer Chauvin said the bridge designation is a fitting honor that will keep her husband’s memory alive.

“It’s where he paid the ultimate sacrifice; so what better to do than name that part after him,” she said.

According to Jennifer, she and her children occasionally drive along the bridge and are encouraged by a memorial erected in the area by friends that includes a plaque.

“When we pass there, I point it out to my children so that they can see what happened,” she said. “Do I think it is necessary? I think it is; in the sense for them to remember their dad and know what he did. He gave his life to save other people.

“It will be sad but it is necessary for people to know what happened. When people pass there and see his name, if people are unfamiliar with it, they will wonder what happened and find out the story.”

Jennifer said she and Spencer’s parents made multiple trips to the state capitol through the bill process, adding her 8-year-old son Jude and 5-year-old daughter Jade sat next to Edwards as he signed the law making the bridge name official.

“The kids loved it,” she said. “(The governor) shook their hands. He was nice, really professional and well spoken.”

Spencer’s mother, Donna Chauvin, said the bridge naming has a lot of meaning, specifically because it was the place where her son was killed.

“Spencer was a very humble person who was devoted to the fire department,” she said. “He spent a lot of his time trying to look at ways to make it better, make it safer. He was constantly looking for ways to make it a better working environment for his firemen. He would do whatever he could to protect the people that were working with him.”

Donna is uniquely tied to firefighters as her father, husband and three sons each worked in various fire response, administrative and investigative fields.

“You hope nothing bad happens, but it is always in the back of your mind because it is a dangerous thing,” Donna said. “I’ve always encouraged all of my kids to do in life what makes you happy. Go after what it is that your heart tells you that you need to do. If my grandkids came and said they wanted to be firemen, I would still be concerned but I wouldn’t discourage them. I would definitely support them.”