LA County

LA County Sheriff's Sergeant's Death a ‘Tremendous Loss'

A long-time Los Angeles County Sheriff's sergeant died Monday morning after what authorities said might have been a medical emergency before a crash in Compton.

The sergeant left the department's Compton station early Monday morning in response to that pursuit of a stolen vehicle. The pursuit was canceled shortly after he left the station, according to the sheriff's department.

A resident later reported a crashed patrol vehicle to the Compton sheriff's station. Deputies responded to the intersection of  Willowbrook Avenue and Myrrh Street to find Sgt. Al Lopez, a member of the department for 27 years, unresponsive in the sport utility vehicle.

The SUV appeared to have crashed into a fence near a rail crossing at the intersection.

"By all indications, it looks like it may have been a medical emergency," said Sheriff Jim McDonnell. "It is a tremendous loss to all of us."

The sergeant was transported in critical condition and later died at the hospital. The coroner will determine a cause of death. 

"By all accounts, a great guy," said McDonnell. "Another tragic loss for us. Well respected by his peers."

Lopez, 47, worked with the department's Special Victims Unit. He handled child and sexual abuse investigations.

He is survived by a wife and two children. 

No arrests in connection with the pursuit were reported early Monday.

The sergeant is the second member of the department to be killed this month in the line of duty. Sgt. Steve Owen was shot and killed during a burglary response. He was a member of the sheriff's department's Lancaster station.

"Mourning the loss of one fallen brother is hard enough," said Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Association President Brian Moriguchi. "But two in the span of three weeks seems unbearable.

"This is when the department and this union truly feels like a close-knit family. We'll grieve together but we'll also stand firmly for those left behind ...," he said.

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