DeKalb dedicates first responders memorial to late Sheriff’s Deputy Christina Musil

New memorial honoring area first responders dedicated in DeKalb, closes out National Police Week

DeKalb resident, veteran and events organizer Michael Embrey (left) thanks the crowd for coming after DeKalb County Sheriff Andy Sullivan (right) joined by loved ones of the late Deputy Christina Musil unveiled a memorial plaque  to honor Musil at the new first responders memorial outside Isaac Executive Suites, 2675 Sycamore Road, DeKalb, during a dedication ceremony held Sunday, May 19, 2024.

DeKALB – Area first responders gathered at the border where DeKalb and Sycamore meet Sunday to help unveil a memorial plaque for the late DeKalb County Sheriff’s Deputy Christina Musil, part of a new memorial honoring local first responders.

The dedication ceremony helped close out National Police Week, a time meant to honor and bring awareness to the sacrifices made by police, firefighters, telecommunicators, paramedics and more.

Organizers said the memorial was made possible by the Pappas and Weaver families. DeKalb County Sheriff Andy Sullivan gave thanks to the families’ generosity as he spoke of Musil, 35, killed while on duty after her patrol car was rear-ended in Waterman March 28. A DeKalb man was arrested and charged with DUI and reckless homicide in the crash.

“As a patrol deputy and throughout her entire career, she demonstrated honor, integrity and bravery,” Sullivan said. “Christina loved to make a difference in this world and she tragically died while serving and protecting our community. She has had so many accomplishments in her life, but the greatest accomplishment of all was being a mother to her children.”

Musil’s plaque was unveiled alongside two new flagpoles that bear flags honoring all who work in police and fire agencies. The new first responders memorial sits outside Isaac Executives Suites, 2675 Sycamore Road, owned by DeKalb-based developer Pappas Development.

A mother of three, Musil served as a military police officer in the U.S. Army for four years, including a deployment to Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009. She began her career with the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office in 2019 as a correctional deputy at the DeKalb County Jail for three years, then moved to the patrol division in 2022.

Sullivan said the new memorial should remind first responders – dozens of whom were in attendance – that their work does not go unnoticed.

In 2023, there were 138 officers killed in the line of duty. So far in 2024, 59 officers have been killed in the line of duty, including four from Illinois, Sullivan said.

Dozens gathered at the corner of Sycamore Road and Oakland Drive to mark the event.

Mike Embrey of DeKalb, a U.S. Air Force veteran and event organizer, said organizers chose that corner because the area covers both DeKalb and, across the street, Sycamore. He said the idea for the memorial came about two years ago when the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon-cutting for Isaac Executive Suites’ opening. He said the location felt special.

Embrey said he worked with John and Foti Pappas and Tom and Todd Weaver to expedite the project when Musil was killed in March so people would have a space to come and remember loved ones.

“This corner will forever be known as First Responders Corner. What a blessing for our city, what a blessing for our county, and every time a car drives up and down, they will remember our firemen, our policemen and all our first responders,” Embrey said. “And this is a reminder that this is what it’s all about, giving back, caring for those people.”

Multiple local leaders also were present, including DeKalb Mayor Cohen Barnes, DeKalb County Administrator Brian Gregory, DeKalb 6th Ward Alderman Mike Verbic and DeKalb County Sheriff Andy Sullivan. First responders clad in their uniforms were joined by their families.

A memorial plaque was unveiled to honor late DeKalb County Sheriff's Deputy Christina Musil at the new first responders memorial outside Isaac Executive Suites, 2675 Sycamore Road, DeKalb, during a dedication ceremony held Sunday, May 19, 2024. Musil, 35, a mother of three and military veteran, was killed in the line of duty after a car crash March 28, 2024. She died from her injuries in the early morning hours March 29, 2024.

Retired firefighter Ron Lofton performed the national anthem. Police and fire flags were hoisted by scouts from DeKalb Scout Troop 33. The Rev. Stephen Persson led the crowd in a prayer for first responders. And DeKalb firefighter Tom Conley performed “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes.

Sullivan announced that Musil’s badge No. 42 will be permanently and honorably retired from the sheriff’s office as of Sunday. It will not be issued to anyone again.

“Tragedies such as these remind of of the dedication, courage and heroism of those who choose to serve in this profession. It gives all of us time to reflect on the fact that the supreme sacrifice of giving our lives to serve the public is always a possibility,” Sullivan said. “Heroes are not defined by fame or fortune, but by their general desire to make a difference. And all of you here today make that difference and I thank you for your service.”

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