FRESNO – Two California Highway Patrol officers lost their lives today while responding to a call on Highway 99 when their patrol car crashed into a guard rail near Kingsburg.
The accident happened just before 6 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 17, near the Sierra Street exit.
“This is a very sad day for us at the CHP as we say goodbye to two valued members of our family,” says the post on the CHP Facebook page.
“These were dedicated officers who gave their lives serving the people of California. They now join a distinguished group of heroes whose names are engraved upon the CHP Memorial Fountain and who will forever be remembered for their valiant sacrifice and service.
Officer Juan Gonzalez, 33, and Officer Brian Law, 34, went through the CHP Academy together in 2008. Officer Gonzalez then went to work in the CHP San Jose Area before transferring to the Fresno Area. Officer Law started his career in Oakland, and joined his former classmate on the midnight shift when he transferred to Fresno. The officers were fast friends and were partnered in the same patrol car when the collision occurred.
Gonzalez and Law were responding to a report of a motor vehicle accident in the northbound lane, but the crash was actually in the southbound lane, with vehicles blocking the road, and at least one of the involved parties was out in the roadway.
Apparently a pickup truck had struck the center divide and crashed, blocking one lane, and was then struck by two other vehicles.
“The officers took evasive action to avoid striking any of the parties involved in the previous collision, lost control of the vehicle and struck the guard rail,” said CHP Captain David Paris. He says the two died instantly.
Officer Gonzalez lived in Fresno and was soon to be engaged. Officer Law lived in Clovis with his wife and three young children.
Captain Paris told reporters this afternoon that this is a reminder of the dangers officers face every day in the line of duty.
“It’s always in our mind; they prepare for it,” said Paris. “But when it happens, it’s like all of us. We never want to accept it.”
It has been a tough assignment for all involved, investigating the deaths of two of their own.
“It’s a sad day. No matter how you look at it, it’s a very, very sad day” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow at the scene. “Right now as we speak, family members are being told that their loved ones are not coming home.”
Highway 99 was blocked for over nine hours as the Accident Reconstruction Team worked to collect evidence and try to piece together exactly how the accident happened. Investigators say that both officers were wearing seat belts.