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There is not a year that goes by that I do not remember Eddie Robbins, his family and the events of that night, a very clear 2 May 1968. His obituary and the articles about the accident have an honoured place in the front of my scrapbook, telling of the courage of this incredible, friendly man and US Air Force veteran.
I was 14 years old and Eddie's wife was my sister's Girl Scout leader, an organisation in which my family was very active. Indeed, my mother had recruited Beverly to be a scout leader. We knew Eddie Robbins' family very well, as well as his parents, and were guests in their home many times.
Eddie had been on routine patrol when he encountered a speeder in the downtown area. As the speeder took off down Third Street, he followed the highway to the left at the Mark Twain Bridge intersection, traveling west on Mark Twain Avenue (US 24/36) at a high rate of speed. As Eddie followed the car out of town, he kept it in visual range in order to preserve the legal requirement for an arrest if HPD could apprehend him. Speeds accelerated quickly on the gently curving road and when they reached the big sweeping curve to the left a couple of miles out of town they were doing speeds excess of 120 mph. The speeder made the curve; Eddie did not. He traveled straight off of the shoulder, flipped end over end three times and was ejected from his cruiser. The ambulance took him to Levering Hospital, arriving at approximately 12:10 AM, where he was met by his wife. He died 25 minutes later at 12:35 AM. The speeder was never identified or caught and remains free to this day.
All I can remember from the aftermath is the profound grief and incredible shock of our small community on Hannibal's South Side. Never in the history any of us could remember had such a thing happened to one of our police officers.
His wife and the girls left for California several years later. I phoned them for a couple of years, then lost track of them. His parents have both been gone for many years. Eddie was their only child.
A few years back, Hannibal built their new hospital a couple of miles out of town across US 24/36 from where the accident occurred. It is uncomfortable for me to go there. I am always very aware of where I stand.
I do not know or understand how G-d deals with events such as these, but I must believe that some way, some how, justice will be granted in this nearly 46 year old crime.
RIP Eddie Robbins! We remember you, we miss you, and we will always love you.
Julia E. Clark
January 4, 2014