Staff Photo: John Bohn On the 20th anniversary of his passing, officials are rededicating a bridge to Gwinnett County Police Officer Chris Magill, who was killed by working a DUI stop. Officer Magill's son James Christopher Magill Jr. attended the ceremony, held Monday at the Gwinnett Westside Police Precinct in Norcross. A pair of engraved markers will be placed near the location of Oficer Magill's passing on I-85 in Norcross.
NORCROSS -- Jim Magill has spent the majority of his life without a father.
That father -- Gwinnett County Police Officer James "Chris" Magill Sr. -- was killed in the line of duty on May 23, 1993. He had stopped one drunk driver on Interstate 85 north near Jimmy Carter Blvd. and was waiting on a tow truck when another drunk driver hit his patrol car and ended his life at age 39.
His son was just 10 years old.
"I'm never going to forget, clearly," Jim Magill said Monday at Gwinnett County police's west precinct, just a few hundred yards from that 20-year-old scene. "But the fact that these other guys are also taking time our of their days to honor him and keep his memory alive ... A lot of these guys never even met my dad."
Jim and his uncle Tim were present Monday as the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District and police department honored the elder Magill's legacy by rededicating the bridge at I-85 and Jimmy Carter in his name. When current construction (scheduled to be done by the end of the year) is completed, signs telling his story will be posted at either end of the bridge.
"We appreciate the fact that we're calling this tragic event, this dark bit of history in our agency, to light again to remind people to remember him," GCPD Chief Charles Walters said. " ... It's important to us as an agency that we never forget this incident."
Chris Magill was a 1972 graduate of South Gwinnett High School and began his law enforcement career with stints at the Lilburn and Snellville police departments before being hired by Gwinnett in 1982. He was seriously wounded in 1987 after being shot in the face while attempting to serve an arrest warrant, Walters said, and was assigned to the DUI task force in 1988.
He received two Purple Hearts and a Medal of Valor, the department's highest honor.
Today, each vehicle in GCPD's DUI task force bears his name and badge number, which has been retired. Each year around the anniversary of Magill's death, the department runs a detail to enforce "move over" laws.
"Nobody had to do this today," Tim Magill, Chris' younger brother, said Monday. "If my father were here, he would definitely approve of today. We're very pleased with what the CID has done, and the police department."