Flowers and balloons sat near the intersection in Laguna Beach where a decorated military veteran and police officer died while on motorcycle patrol Saturday night, 30 minutes before his shift ended.
Jon Coutchie was killed while responding to a reckless driver call near Cleo Street and Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach about 11:30 p.m. Saturday. He was 41.
His colleagues paid their respects to a "committed cop" and former Army Ranger.
"To tell you that our staff is devastated right now is not giving it justice," said Capt. Jason Kravetz, of the Laguna Beach Police Department.
Added colleague Marlene Mackler: "He was just the nicest guy ... always had a smile on his face."
California Attorney General Kamala Harris called Coutchie’s death "a tragic loss."
"I extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues in the Laguna Beach Police Department," she said in a statement. "The people of California will always remember and honor his service.”
As he approached Cleo Street, Coutchie hit a pickup truck and flew off his bike, police said. Three people in the truck were not injured. Neither drugs nor alcohol were factors in the crash, the California Highway Patrol said. The officer did not have lights and sirens on, officials said.
"It's just an unfortunate accident," said Chris Johnson, of the CHP, which is investigating the crash.
An officer at the scene of the crash covered Coutchie's body as it lay in the street with an American flag "as an honor to his sacrifice as an Army Ranger and Laguna Beach Police Officer," the Laguna Beach Police Employees' Association said on a Facebook page.
"We will forever miss and love Jon here at the Police Department and will grieve along with the citizens of this community."
Coutchie enlisted in the military after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Born in Tuscon, Ariz. and raised in Orange County, Calif., Coutchie served two tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, officials said.
After leaving the military, he started working at the Police Department part-time as a jailer before becoming a full-time motorcycle officer four years ago.
He is survived by his mother, father, brother, step-sister and girlfriend.
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