CA Highway Patrol Mourns Five Officers
Four separate highway accidents in June followed a May 7 plane crash in which one officer died. The funeral for Officer Philip Ortiz is taking place today.
The California Highway Patrol is laying to rest Officer Philip Ortiz, 48, today in Los Angeles, 21 days after a vehicle struck him from behind while he was engaged in a traffic stop on I-405. Five CHP officers have died in the line of duty since May 7, when Officer Dan Benavides died in a plane crash while patrolling.
The other four -- Officers Brett Oswald, Justin McGrory, Ortiz, and Thomas P. Coleman -- died in June traffic accidents. In CHP's history, a total of 220 uniformed members have died in the line of duty.
"It's times like these that re-emphasize how dangerous this profession is, and it strengthens the resolve of the men and women of the CHP," said California Association of Highway Patrolmen President Rob Nelson. "It is imperative that the loss of these officers serve as a reminder to the public to be cautious when approaching emergency incidents on the highway."
CHP has a memorial page on its website about the five officers. Also on the site is a reminder that the Move Over, Slow Down law took effect in California three years ago and requires a driver on a freeway who is approaching in a lane immediately adjacent to a stationary authorized emergency vehicle that is displaying emergency lights, or a stopped tow truck that is displaying flashing amber warning lights, to move out of that lane when it is legal, safe, and practicable or slow to a reasonable and safe speed.
"Many of these tragedies involving our officers and other highway workers and emergency personnel could be avoided," said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. "While the department is committed to the highest level of training for every officer, it is every motorist's responsibility to drive attentively and exercise caution on the roadway."