On a day the sheriff's department honors its bravest, they also had to once again — for the second time in three weeks — say goodbye to a fellow deputy killed while in the line of duty.
Sgt. Al Lopez, a 27-year veteran of the department, died Monday morning after what authorities said might have been a medical emergency before a crash in Compton.
Lopez had gotten into his patrol car to assist other deputies who were involved in a pursuit of a stolen car. However, the pursuit was called off about the time that the sergeant was pulling out of the parking lot of the sheriff's station.
Shortly thereafter, the sergeant was found unresponsive in his patrol car that had crashed into a fence. The chase had been called off for safety reasons, in part because of the rainy weather.
A citizen ran in to let deputies know what happened. They performed CPR until paramedics arrived, but Lopez did not survive.
Monday's Valor Awards Ceremony was dedicated to Sgt. Steve Owen, a decorated 29-year sheriff's department veteran, who was shot and killed while responding to a burglary report on Oct. 5 in Lancaster.
The sheriff's department also took a moment of silence to honor Lopez.
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He was described by Sheriff Jim McDonnell as "a great guy, a great sergeant and another tragic loss for us."
McDonnell presented 33 members of the sheriff's department, one retired sheriff's deputy and one California Highway Patrol officer with awards for their "acts of heroism."