The Los Angeles County sheriff’s department Monday mourned with “overwhelming grief” the death of a deputy who was struck and killed by a passing vehicle on the San Gabriel (605) Freeway.
The victim had apparently stopped his vehicle in the emergency lane due to mechanical problems and had just gotten out from the driver’s side into the far right traffic lane when he was hit.
Michael Leonard Haak, 52, had lived in Fullerton, according to the coroner’s office. Haak began his career with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in the fall of 1988 and was survived by his wife, three children and a sister, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported.
His boss at the Lakewood station said deputies there have been hit with “overwhelming grief.” In 2015, Haak was honored for his service to nearby Bellflower as a motorcycle traffic officer, and was described as “always polite” as he wrote citations.
The CHP said in a crash report that its initial investigation indicates that Haak was “presumably experiencing vehicle trouble” and walked into a traffic lane on the right side of the six-lane northbound 605 Freeway, between South Street and Artesia Boulevard.
He was hit by a car at 2:45 p.m. Saturday.
The other driver, a 54-year-old man from Buena Park, stayed at the scene and cooperated with investigators, the CHP said in a crash report.
The CHP reported the deputy was off duty, assigned to the nearby Lakewood Station and was in his personal vehicle.
“Initial statements obtained at the scene indicate the deputy walked onto the traffic side of the vehicle and was struck by a motorist traveling north in the right lane,” according to a CHP crash report.
Paramedics rushed Haak to St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, where he died from his injuries at 3:28 p.m. Saturday, according to the coroner’s office.
“I know many of you worked with Mike, and words alone will never be able to ease the overwhelming grief you must be feeling,” said Capt. James Wolak of the sheriff’s Lakewood station. “Please know that Mike loved being a deputy sheriff and lived a very full life.
“I was proud to witness the overwhelming response from the Lakewood station in support of him and his family. We have department personnel with his family offering support during this challenging time,” Wolak said.
“As we work through this devastating loss, our thoughts go out to the families and all those affected by this tragedy.”
The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS) also issued a statement of condolences Sunday afternoon regarding the accidental death of Haak.
“We are heartbroken by the tragic death of Deputy Michael Haak, an off-duty Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy struck by a passing vehicle on the San Gabriel Freeway after the deputy stopped his vehicle in the emergency lane,” wrote ALADS. “There are many impacted by this tragedy and we are focusing on providing comfort and support to Deputy Haak’s family, friends and colleagues.”
The traffic crash is being investigated by the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs office.
–City News Service