Mourners gathered Friday to remember a Gardena police motorcycle officer, who was on his way to work when he was fatally injured in a crash 2 1/2 weeks ago.
The service for Officer Toshio Hirai, 34, was held outdoors at Green Hills Mortuary and Memorial Chapel, where mourners arrived to see a giant American flag held aloft between two fire department ladder trucks.
“I’m going to miss you, Toshio,” said Gardena police Chief Thomas Kang. “Your contagious smile, your wonderful laughter. You gave your mind, body, and soul to all of us.”
Hirai was en route to work about 7:50 a.m. Nov. 14 when he collided with a vehicle at Western Avenue and 238th Street in Harbor City. He died the following day, leaving behind a wife and 2-year-old son.
Kristen Hirai remembered her husband as a hero and her best friend.
“I hope (to) draw on his strength,” she said. “To leave my son to be the best man he can be, just like Toshio was — and will forever be — our hero.”
Hirai was a 12-year veteran of the police department and a member of its SWAT team.
Donations to assist the officer’s family can be made online at 999-gardenapoa.firstresponderprocessing.com/. The Gardena Police Officers’ Association in partnership with the 999 Police & Sheriff Foundation created the donation page, and Prendergast said it is the only legitimate online donation site. As of Friday morning, about $76,000 had been raised, with a target goal of $125,000.
Also, checks to assist the officer’s family, made payable to the Gardena Police Officers’ Association (GPOA), can be mailed to or dropped off at: Gardena Police Department, 1718 W. 162nd St., Gardena, California, 90247.
All donations are tax-deductible.