The Hawthorne Police Department is mourning the loss of Sergeant Leonard Luna, after he was killed in an accident on the 105 freeway Monday night. Luna was a 10-year veteran of the department, and a memorial now honors him in the lobby of the police department. Hetty Chang reports from Hawthorne for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on July 9, 2013.
Hawthorne police Officer Leonard Luna was a man who loved his job and loved to ride, according to close friends. He was doing both when his life was cut tragically short, after he collided with a Toyota carrying a family of seven from Fontana this week.
Luna, 41, crashed his personal motorcycle on the eastbound lanes of the Glenn Anderson (105) Freeway in Lynwood just before 5 p.m. on Monday, according to the California Highway Patrol. He was on his way to pick up his police motorcycle, which was getting serviced in Long Beach.
A steady flow of friends and colleagues added to a growing memorial for Luna in the lobby of the Hawthorne police department Tuesday, where Luna was a 10-year veteran and the department's traffic bureau commander.
At the center of his memorial is Luna's police motorcycle. A self-professed "gearhead", Luna was known to ride, sometimes thousands of miles on end.
"Usually, he would send a picture and be like, 'Hey I'm at the Florida Keys, where you at?'" said Sgt. Eric Lane, a close colleague and friend.
Luna's passing is especially difficult for the department, who also lost another motorcycle officer, Andrew Garton, who was killed in a traffic collision in May 2011. Luna and Garton were part of a tight-knit group within the department, who would often ride motorcycles together.
"I had a fateful call that I have to tell you, reminded me of a call I got two years ago when we lost another motor officer of ours," said Hawthorn police Chief Robert Fager, the chief of the department. "All the heart strings get pulled and all the realities of what this profession can bring."
The department, which was recently under scrutiny for a highly-circulated video of one its officers shooting and killing a Rottweiler, had said its immediate focus was on helping Luna's family and colleagues cope Tuesday.
"He captured you with his personality," said Lane. "He always had a smile and he loved riding bikes."
Luna was 41 years old, unmarried with no children. He is survived by his mother, father and brother, Swain said.