With hundreds of people watching from the stands at Fresno's Save Mart Center, two California Highway Patrol officers killed while responding to a crash were remembered on Monday as family men who died while serving others.
CHP Commissioner Joseph Farrow called officers Brian Law and Juan Gonzalez heroes and asked everybody in attendance to consider the families they left behind.
"These families pay a price so incredibly high, one that society can never repay," he said. "This is the human spirit at its very finest."
The ceremony began with a march by a four-member CHP color guard accompanied by bagpipes. The color guard stood before the officers' flag-draped caskets. Farrow told the crowd it was a day of mourning for the entire state.
Law, 34, and Gonzalez, 33, died on Feb. 17 while they were in the same patrol car heading south on state Route 99 toward a pre-dawn crash in Kingsburg.
The patrol car driven by Gonzalez veered off the road, apparently trying to avoid a pedestrian involved in the original collision. Both officers died at the scene, and the accident remains under investigation.
The officers, who were close, graduated from the CHP academy in 2008. They are the first officers from the Fresno CHP office who died together in the line of duty and the first Fresno CHP deaths since 1962, when Jerry E. Turre was struck and killed while laying flares at an accident scene.
In addition to Gov. Jerry Brown and state Attorney General Kamala Harris, officers from at least 21 agencies, including some outside California, were expected to attend Monday's memorial.
Officer Axel Reyes of the CHP's Fresno office said some of the officers will be on duty and others off. He said the Save Mart Center was rented for the event with donations from the community.
The two officers will be buried in separate funeral services following the memorial.