Burns: House approves two bridge-naming proposals

WWII veteran, first responder immortalized

EBENSBURG, June 25 – Continuing his longstanding tradition, state Rep. Frank Burns scored another success today as the House approved his proposals to name local bridges after a World War II veteran and a first responder, both killed in the line of duty.

Burns, D-Cambria, said Seaman 2nd Class Louis J. Benzie and first responder Janice Keen-Livingston are virtually assured of immortalization after his bills were amended into S.B. 532, which received unanimous House passage.

“What matters more than legislative procedure is that we’re a key step closer to honoring two heroes in perpetuity,” Burns said. “They folded my bills into a Senate bill, which is fine by me. The key is working with everyone to get something done.”

Burns’ H.B. 150 designates a bridge on PA Route 53 over Laurel Run in Dean Township as the Seaman 2nd Class Louis J. Benzie WWII Memorial Bridge.

Benzie, a native of Dysart, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Assigned to the destroyer U.S.S. Maddox, he became a member of Task Force 81, the assault force for the invasion of Sicily, Italy.

On July 10, 1943, Benzie’s ship was attacked by a German dive bomber while on anti-submarine patrol 16 miles off the shore of Sicily – taking a direct hit, rolling over and sinking within two minutes. Benzie was killed in action at 18, his body was never recovered, and he was declared dead on July 11, 1944. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.

“Seaman Benzie’s bravery and sacrifice is the stuff of military legend – and his sacrifice should never be forgotten,” Burns said. “To think of a life snuffed out at 18 is tragic in any era, but to die the way he did in service to our country should make everyone living today grateful for men like him.”

Burns’ H.B. 153 designates a bridge on U.S. Route 219 over PA Route 53 in Croyle Township as the Janice Keen-Livingston First Responders' Memorial Bridge.

Keen-Livingston, a native of Johnstown, served as a paramedic, supervisor and training officer for the West End Ambulance Service. She also served as a part-time paramedic for the Hilltop Ambulance Association, Menoher Heights Volunteer Fire Co., and the Conemaugh Township EMS, and as a CPR instructor and member of the Lower Yoder Volunteer Fire Co.

On March 2, 2015, at age 38, Keen-Livingston was struck and killed by a truck while responding at the scene of a motor vehicle accident on Route 271 in Upper Yoder Township.

“This is the first time I’ve worked to get a bridge named after a first responder who died while performing her duties – and in all honesty, I hope it’s the last,” Burns said. “Janice’s devotion to her job resulted in her death, and I don’t want to see that happen to anyone else. But we should never take for granted how dangerous that job can be.”