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Commissioners endorse Deputy Ryan Hendrix Bridge on U.S. 64

Henderson County commissioners on Monday night took one of the final steps to name the county’s most heavily traveled interstate overpass bridge for Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan P. Hendrix, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who was killed in the line of duty on Sept. 10, 2020.

Hendrix, 34, died when a gunman opened fire on deputies investigating a car break-in the predawn hours of Sept. 10. Other officers returned fire, killing the shooter.

Hendersonville City Council member Jennifer Hensley first brought the idea to Sheriff Lowell Griffin when she learned while serving on the French Broad MPO how the NCDOT names roads and bridges.

“I just thought it would be a really cool and awesome way to honor him,” she said. “I reached out to the sheriff’s office to make a suggestion and they were just ecstatic at the possibility. I knew Ryan personally. I’m just happy to see the sheriff’s office honor him.”

When the sign is up, thousands of motorists will see it as they approach the busiest overpass bridge in the county. An average of 30,000-35,000 cars and trucks travel on U.S. 64 daily, according to a traffic engineering study of Hendersonville’s streets and highways in 2022. Interviewed Saturday at a charity softball game pitting sheriff’s deputies against a men’s senior softball league team, Griffin turned the praise back on Hensley.

“Credit has been handed to me but behind the scenes that’s Jennifer Hensley,” he said. “She was the one that made that happen.”

“What he did that morning, his service in the military, his sacrifice, his family’s sacrifice — it’s really important that they’re not forgotten,” he said. “And I think it’s tremendous. We are extremely happy about it. It’s tragic that it has to be there. Every day 30,000 cars will traverse that and Ryan won’t be forgotten. That’s pretty special.”

The Hendersonville City Council is expected to adopt same resolution urging the NCDOT to name the bridge for Hendrix.

The son of Heidi and Don Hendrix, Ryan joined the Marines in 2004 and volunteered to serve a tour of duty in Iraq in 2006. He joined the sheriff’s office as a detention officer in June 2012 before rising through the ranks as a patrol deputy, training officer, SWAT team member and shift detective. “Even in death,” the resolution says, “Deputy Ryan P. Hendrix continued to exemplify a servant’s heart as an organ donor helping countless strangers.”