Laguna Beach officer, veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan wars, dies in crash

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Laguna Beach police are mourning the loss of a motorcycle officer who died in the line of duty Saturday night. 

Officer Jon Coutchie, 41, was hit by a pickup truck at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Cleo Street, the Laguna Beach Police Employee's Association said in a statement.

Coutchie was attempting to locate a speeding car that had been spotted by another officer at 11:44 p.m. Saturday night, according to California Highway Patrol. He was headed northbound on PCH. A white pickup traveling southbound was preparing to make a left turn when the collision occurred.

Coutchie died at the scene. according to the Police Employee Association. Its statement included some details on the crash: 

After the arriving officers saw that Jon had succumbed to his injuries, one of them ran into a local Ralph’s Market and grabbed an American Flag. Jon’s body was draped in that American Flag as an honor to his sacrifice as an Army Ranger and Laguna Beach Police Officer. 

CHP spokesman Aaron Rothberg identified the pickup truck driver as 20-year-old Chase Halaby of Irvine. 

"We are not suspecting drugs or alcohol," Rothberg said. Halaby, who was uninjured, "was cooperative at the scene," he added.

Coutchie enlisted in the military after the September 11 attacks. He became an Army Ranger, and served in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2007. He is survived by his mother, father, brother, step-sister and girlfriend. 

The CHP is asking witnesses with information to come forward. 

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated Officer Coutchie was 42 years old. He was 41. 

With contributions from Eric Zassenhaus

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