MONTICELLO, Ill. (WCIA) — People who drive on Interstate 72 between Decatur and Champaign will now drive on the Officer Oberheim Memorial Highway.
It’s been almost two-and-a-half years since Chris Oberheim was killed in the line of duty as a Champaign Police officer. On Saturday at Monticello High School, the Oberheim family, State Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) and others officially unveiled the signs that carry Oberheim’s legacy. Dozens of cars drove down the highway afterward in a procession to see one of the new signs along the side of the road.
“He was brave and protected the residents of Champaign with the highest regard,” said Chris Aikman, Oberheim’s friend and fellow Champaign officer. “He did his job with honor and tact. Chris was a hero in every sense of the word.”
Now his heroic actions will forever be remembered on a stretch of road he traveled on nearly every day.
“He traveled this route along Interstate 72 from home to work and back for 20 years until May 26, 2021, the day he left from church in Decatur and traveled home for the final time.”
For Aikman, the signs that line I-72 are reminders of the sacrifices made and the brotherhood behind the badge.
“As I make my own regular treks along this road, I’ll be heartened to see his legacy remembered,” Aikman said.
There are several memorials across Illinois honoring Oberheim, but his oldest daughters Hannah and Avery said they are excited that this one can be a part of their daily lives.
“I think it’s something that will make me happy and it’s just a small reminder that means a lot to me,” Hannah said.
“Whenever I am going towards Decatur or going home, I’ll be able to see that sign,” Avery said. “And it just reminds me to keep going and to remember him and it’s super special.”
Avery said the highway dedication has been in the works for a while and she’s thankful to all who made it possible. Rose led the project and even had miniature signs made for the Oberheim family and their friends.