A bill was passed in the New Jersey Assembly Monday that would designate a portion of Route 27 as the Billie D. Ellis Memorial Highway to honor a Princeton policeman who died trying to save children.
On Aug. 19 of 1955, off-duty Princeton Policeman Billie D. Ellis attempted to rescue two young boys whose canoe had capsized in rough water on Lake Carnegie in Princeton shortly after a hurricane. While Ellis was trying to reach the children, his own canoe tipped over. He and the two boys lost their lives that day. Ellis was 31.
To pay tribute to Ellis, a bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex), Andrew Zwicker and Roy Freiman (both D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon) to designate a portion of Route 27 as “Patrolman Billie D. Ellis Memorial Highway” was approved Monday by the Assembly, 79-0.
The sponsors released a joint statement about the bill.
“Patrolman Ellis was a true public servant. Only on the job for three years, he knew when he witnessed those children in trouble that it was his duty to step in to help them. He was married with two children of his own and expecting a baby. He had a promising career as a police officer,” reads the statement. “Patrolman Ellis tragically lost his life that day. However, we can keep his memory alive through this measure. When we honor a fallen hero, we also pay tribute to the thousands of men and women first responders like him who risk their own lives every day to protect others.”