Triathlon to Honor Palm Springs Officer Killed in Line of Duty

"Lesley is a true hero.''

A Palm Springs police officer killed in the line of duty will be honored Sunday during a triathlon in Hemet, where she grew up.

Organizers of the 31st annual Tinsel Triathlon are dedicating the event to the memory of Officer Lesley Zerebny, who was gunned down with her partner, Officer Jose "Gilbert'' Vega, on Oct. 8 as they investigated a domestic disturbance.

During Sunday's competition, participants will wear T-shirts bearing Zerebny's name and a thin blue line, signifying her loss. Traditionally, Tinsel Triathlon contestants only wear shirts with an official event logo.

A portion of all proceeds raised from race registrations will also be donated to the Hemet native's family.

"We hope this small gesture reminds her family how much our community appreciates her sacrifice and the fact that she was willing to stand in the gap between the law-abiding citizens and the unthinkable violence she endured that day,'' said Central County United Way spokeswoman Connie Hall, a triathlon coordinator. "Lesley is a true hero.''

Hemet police Chief Dave Brown, who will be among those on hand Sunday, said it was "an honor to be able to present the Tinsel Tri in Lesley's memory.''

"She graduated from West Valley High School, where the event will be held, and she was a model for community service,'' the chief said.


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Zerebny and Vega, as well as a third Palm Springs policeman who survived, were trying to make contact with convicted felon John Hernandez Felix at his mother's Palm Springs residence when he allegedly opened fire on the officers with a semiautomatic rifle loaded with armor piercing rounds.

Felix is facing the death penalty if convicted.

The Tinsel Triathlon will feature a 5k run, a bicycle race and a swimming meet in the vicinity of West Valley High School, at Sanderson Avenue and Mustang Way. More information is available here.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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