Sheriff’s deputies, family and friends gathered in San Dimas Wednesday to pay tribute to sheriff’s Sgt. Al Lopez, who died of a heart attack Oct. 24 while on duty in Compton.
Sheriff Jim McDonnell was among the mourners at the service at Christ’s Church of the Valley, 1404 West Covina Blvd.
“His fellow deputies would be among the first to say that Al didn’t just work, he was a champion for the victims of crime,” McDonnell said.
Lopez, 47, died at a hospital shortly after his patrol car crashed about 5:20 a.m. Oct. 24 at Myrrh Street and Willowbrook Avenue, near the sheriff’s Compton Station. An autopsy determined that the 26-year veteran had suffered a heart attack, and his death was listed as the result of natural causes, the coroner’s office reported.
Lopez, who had transferred to the sheriff’s Compton Station about a year ago, is survived by a wife and two adult children.
“It is a tremendous loss to all of us,” McDonnell told reporters gathered outside the hospital following Lopez’ death.
Lopez had gotten into his patrol car to assist other deputies who were involved in a pursuit of a stolen car, McDonnell said. However, the pursuit was called off about the time that the sergeant was pulling out of the parking lot of the Compton Station, McDonnell said.
A short time later, about 100 yards away, the patrol car crashed into a wrought-iron fence, McDonnell said. The chase had been called off for safety reasons, in part because of the rainy weather that day, the sheriff said.
The loss was another blow for a department still reeling from the Oct. 5 on-duty killing of Lancaster Station Sgt. Steve Owen.
“Mourning the loss of one fallen brother is hard enough,” said Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Association President Brian Moriguchi. “But two in the span of three weeks seems unbearable. … Our thoughts and prayers are with the Lopez family, including his wife and children, along with many colleagues and friends on the department.”
The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs also issued a statement mourning Lopez’s death.
“All of our ALADS members will be grieving the loss with Sergeant Lopez’s family members, friends, and fellow deputies. We would ask everyone to keep the men and women in law enforcement in your thoughts and prayers.”
—City News Service
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