Officer Kevin Sandoval E.O.W. 06-14-11
SOUTH PASADENA – Friends and colleagues of the South Pasadena police officer who died the day before remembered him Wednesday as a hard worker with an infectious smile.
Kevin Sandoval, 23, of Covina was doing firearms training when he fell and hit his head, authorities said. In an email, Chief Joseph Payne said Sandoval’s death was being investigated as an accident.
Gov. Jerry Brown said that in honor of Sandoval, Capitol flags were flown at half-staff Wednesday.
“Officer Sandoval had a promising future in law enforcement and public service that was tragically cut short,” Brown said.
Officer Juan Salcieo said he had just graduated from the police academy when he met Sandoval, then a 19-year-old cadet.
“He was really respectful, hardworking and really into police work,” Salcieo said Wednesday. “He always wanted to be a police officer.”
Over the next three years the pair spent a lot of time together in and out of the police station.
We became very close, not only because of work, but because we lived five minutes away from each other,” Salcieo said. “We’d go to Vegas or Lake Havasu together.”
In fact Salcieo had gone with Sandoval to Lake Havasu over the Memorial Day weekend to take out Sandoval’s newly purchased Nordic boat.
“It was fun going out on the boat, joking and talking,” Salcieo said, adding that he would tease Sandoval because he talked so fast that he slurred his words.
He had been a cadet with the department for a year before graduating from Rio Hondo Police Academy to become a a full-time patrol officer on Feb. 16, 2009.
Sandoval is the second South Pasadena Police Officer to die in the line of duty, said Captain Richard Kowaltschuk. Officer Ray Rogers died in 1944 in a traffic accident.
The Los Angeles County Coroners Office put a security hold on Sandoval’s file at the request of the South Pasadena Police Department, said Lt. Fred Corral.
“He was examined today and released to the mortuary,” Corral said.
Sandoval died during a training exercise at Burro Canyon Shooting Park, authorities said.
Paramedics who were also training at the facility treated Sandoval immediately after the 2 p.m. incident, according to Monterey Park police Sgt. Frank Duke.
Officials said Sandoval went into cardiac arrest and was flown by a sheriff’s helicopter to Foothill Presbyterian Hospital in Glendora, where he was pronounced dead at about 2:30 p.m.
Sandoval is survived by his parents, Vilma and Obdulio Sandoval, and sister Janet, of Covina.
Kowaltschuk said Sandoval was always calm and composed in the field. He described Sandoval’s smile as “infectious.”
“He’d be walking around looking stern and professional,” Kowaltschuk said. “You’d stop and talk to him and all of a sudden his smile would come out.”
“He did have a nice smile,” he said, “but he didn’t like to show it because of his braces.”
Arthur Burgos, a dispatcher with the South Pasadena Police Department, remembered Sandoval as a motivator.
“He went to the police academy before I did and every time I’d see him he’d ask about my application process,” Burgos said. “He encouraged me a lot.”
Sandoval was mature for his 23 years and had talked about reviving the department’s explorer program, Burgos said.
“I had the pleasure of hiring Kevin Sandoval as a Cadet, Reserve Officer and regular Police Officer,” said former South Pasadena Police Chief Dan Watson via Facebook. “He was a dedicated officer who took his job seriously and had a great future ahead of him.”
“He had a hard work attitude towards everything,” Slacieo said. “He loved being an officer and I hope everybody saw that.”