On the one-year anniversary of the deaths of two Palm Springs officers killed in the line of duty, a pair of ceremonies Sunday renamed a four-mile stretch of Highway 111 in their honor and unveiled a memorial plaque at police headquarters.
A sign dedicating Police Officer Jose 'Gil' Vega and Police Officer Lesley Zerebny Memorial Highway, which runs from Overture Drive to West San Rafael Drive, was unveiled in a ceremony at the Palm Springs Visitors Center, 2901 N. Palm Canyon Drive.
The officers' names are being added to the police memorial in front of the station, joining Officer Lyle Wayne Larrabee, who died during a vehicle pursuit in 1962, and Officer Gale Gene Eldridge, who was fatally shot on Jan. 18, 1961, while investigating an armed robbery.
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"While we can never repay Officers Vega and Zerebny for their sacrifice, this memorial highway will honor their dedication to protecting the people of Palm Springs," said Assemblyman Chad Mayes, R-Yucca Valley, who proposed the highway dedication earlier this year. "I'm proud that California is giving these heroes the recognition they deserve."
Vega and Zerebny were shot, along with another officer who survived, when they responded to a family disturbance call at the home of an ex-con who's facing double murder charges and other allegations that could see him getting the death penalty.
Vega had been with the department for 35 years -- five years past his retirement eligibility -- and had planned to finish his career last December. He is survived by his wife, Susana, eight children, 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Zerebny had been with the department for a year and a half and had just returned to duty from maternity leave after the birth of a daughter, Cora, four months before her death. She is also survived by her husband, Zachary.