LAPD Mourns Third Officer to Die in Crash in Two Months

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    NEWSLETTERS

    When he was killed in a fatal car accident, Officer Roberto Sanchez was working a challenging assignment in LA’s Harbor Gateway area. As his family mourns their loss, his LAPD colleagues are mourning the loss of yet another beloved comrade. John Cádiz Klemack reports from Harbor City for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Monday, May 5, 2014. (Published Tuesday, May 6, 2014)

    A somber mood hit the Los Angeles Police Department as officers mourned the loss of the third officer to die in a crash in two months.

    Officer Roberto Sanchez, 32, died Saturday after a crash at West Anaheim and Senator streets in LA.

    Sanchez's partner, who suffered a broken jaw and other injuries, was released from the hospital on Monday.

    "There are many people right now walking around feeling a sense of numbness inside because you run out of tears after a while," said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.

    Colleagues remembered Sanchez as a good cop who will forever be a member of the LAPD family.

    "The division's hurtin' because these officers build relationship with each other," said Capt. Gerald Woodyard, of the LAPD Harbor Division, where Sanchez worked. "They know each other's family.

    "You're with the officers sometimes more than you're with your family. So that brotherhood or sisterhood, it's real."

    LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith said the officers were chasing a white Chevrolet Camaro east on Anaheim Street when both vehicles made U-turns.

    The Camaro was being pursued "for a traffic violation," police said.

    The patrol car was struck on the driver's side by an SUV, which also had been heading east on Anaheim Street.

    The driver ran from the SUV, but police said a person of interest was in custody.

    "That individual has been located and detained as a person of interest and is being interrogated by detectives," police said in a statement.

    It was unclear if the cruiser's emergency lights and siren were on.

    Medina used his cellphone to call for help, because the car was so damaged the radio in it was unusable, police said.

    Family members planned Sanchez's funeral. An only child, he lived with his wife around the corner from his parents in Santa Ana, said a neighbor, Howard Wallevand.

    He visited his parents almost every day after work, Wallevand said.

    "That's really hurting them," Wallevand said of Sanchez's family, "big time, cause he was their only child and he would be with them everyday.

    "That hurts."

    Flowers and candles mark the place where he died. A growing memorial is in the lobby of the office where he logged in everyday.

    But his brothers and sisters in blue say his impact reaches out to every street of LA.

    "Officer Sanchez was a man, he was a son, he was a cousin," Woodyard said. "He was a nephew. And so out of all of this, keep his family in your prayers, because we are."

    Sanchez became the third Los Angeles police officer to die in wrecks in two months.

    In March, an officer was killed when an out-of-control truck struck his patrol car on steep Loma Vista Drive.

    In April, a motorcycle officer was killed when he was struck from behind by an alleged drugged driver and pinned against the vehicle in front of him.

    A San Bernardino officer was killed while riding his motorcycle Thursday on the Riverside (91) Freeway.

    Donation accounts have been set up for each officer at the Los Angeles Police Federal Credit Union, P.O. Box 10188, Van Nuys, CA 91410. Donations should be sent with checks made payable either to "Blue Ribbon Trust for Roberto Sanchez" or "Blue Ribbon Trust for Richard Medina."

    NBC4's Vikki Vargas contributed to this report.

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