FRESNO -- Thousands of mourners, including Gov. Jerry Brown, attended a memorial service Monday for two California Highway Patrol officers who died in a car crash on Feb. 17 as they responded to a multi-car accident.
Bagpipers played and hundreds of law enforcement officers, black bands across their badges, stood in silent salute to Juan Gonzalez, 33, and Brian Law, 34, the first CHP officers in the Fresno area to die in the line of duty in more than 50 years.
Gonzalez, who had wanted to be a CHP officer from the age of 5, and Law, a former Marine, husband and father of three, were remembered for their passion and integrity.
"We join all Californians in honoring these officers for their courage, commitment and service," Brown said in a statement issued after their deaths.
Gonzalez's best friend, Hector Arredondo, recalled how they met at Fresno State 15 years ago, boys from poor families who had realized their college dreams. He said Gonzalez was relentless in his pursuit to join the CHP.
"He accomplished his dream," he said. "Juan's story of success is that of many of us in the [Central] Valley."
Law, a generous, athletic man, was dedicated to his wife and children, said friend John Savage.
"He inspired me to be a better husband, and, someday, a great dad."
Both Gonzalez and Law graduated from the CHP Academy in 2008. After teaming up on the night shift in Fresno, they became the best of friends.
The fatal crash occurred before dawn on Highway 99 in Kingsburg.
CHP Capt. Dave Paris said the officers had received calls around 6 a.m. indicating a crash was in the northbound lanes. Traveling south from Fresno, the officers suddenly came upon cars and a pedestrian outside one of the vehicles on their side of the freeway instead.
The patrol car hit a guardrail and flipped. Both men were killed instantly.
After the memorial service, a motorcade of at least 100 vehicles escorted Law's casket to Clovis. The motorcade then headed to Tulare, where Gonzalez will be buried.
As the motorcade passed, people lined up along the side of roads and bowed their heads.
Law is survived by his wife, Rebecca, and three children: Brandon, Lauren and Samantha. Gonzalez is survived by his mother Maria and sister Sandra. He had planned to soon propose to his girlfriend.