Police Salute Gardena Officer Killed in Crash on Way to Work

Officer Toshio Hirai was on his way to work when he collided with a vehicle

A procession was held Tuesday for a Gardena Police Department motorcycle officer who died of injuries he suffered in a collision in Harbor City.

Tuesday afternoon, the body of Officer Toshio Hirai, 34, was moved in a procession from Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance to the Los Angeles County coroner's office near downtown Los Angeles, said Gardena police Lt. Steve Prendergast. Funeral services will be Nov. 30 at Green Hills Mortuary and Memorial Chapel, 27501 S. Western Ave., in Rancho Palos Verdes, Prendergast said.

Hirai was on his way to work when he collided with a vehicle about 7:50 a.m. Wednesday at Western Avenue and 238th Street, according to police. He died Thursday at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, leaving behind a wife and 2-year-old son.

At a Friday night vigil in front of Gardena police headquarters, Hirai's widow shared fond memories of her husband.

"Toshio had a really awesome sense of humor, it just was contagious," Kristen Hirai said. "He had terrible chewing habits that irked me, but what I would not give for him to be chewing here today. I am so thankful. I haven't been able to really reach out or respond to how much support I've been getting from all of you."

Condolences were sent in a statement by Gov. Jerry Brown, who ordered flags at the State Capitol lowered to half-staff in Hirai's honor.

"Anne and I join all Californians in mourning the loss of Officer Hirai, whose years of dedicated service to the Gardena community will always be remembered," Brown said. "Our thoughts and condolences are with his family, friends and fellow officers in this difficult time."

Hirai was a 12-year veteran of the police department and a member of its SWAT team.

The driver of the other vehicle stopped at the scene and cooperated with investigators, according to the Los Angeles Police Department, which was investigating the collision.

Neither alcohol nor drugs were suspected as factors in the crash, police said.

Donations to assist the officer's family can be made by visiting this site

Checks made payable to the Gardena Police Officers' Association (GPOA) can be mailed to or dropped off at: Gardena Police Department, 1718 W. 162nd St., Garde

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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