A 41-year-old Laguna Beach police officer died in the line of duty late Saturday when his motorcycle collided with a pickup truck, authorities said.
Jon Coutchie was responding to a call of a speeding motorist who had evaded another officer, Laguna Beach Police Department Captain Jason Kravetz said. Coutchie was heading north on Coast Highway, looking for the vehicle, when he collided with a Chevrolet pickup truck at the intersection of Cleo Street.
He died on the scene, Kravetz said. Coutchie's death is the department's first line-of-duty death since 1953.
"It is with the heaviest of heart that we announce the death of one of our motor officers," Kravetz said in a prepared statement. "Please understand that our Police Department is suffering from this tragic loss."
The crash remains under investigation by the California Highway Patrol.
Coutchie was born in Tucson, Ariz., and raised in Orange County where he graduated from Laguna Hills High School in 1989. Coutchie served in the U.S. Army from 2003 to 2007, and was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
After being honorably discharged, Coutchie joined the Laguna Beach Police Department, working as a part-time jailer.
"He quickly showed great enthusiasm for his job and excelled with each assignment," Kravetz said.
The police department sponsored him through the Goldenwest Police Academy in 2008. He completed the training in March 2009 and was immediately sworn in as a Laguna Beach police officer.
"Jon showed a passion for traffic issues and displayed an early expertise in accident investigation," Kravetz said.
Jon applied and was selected for one of the coveted motor officer positions in March.
"We will forever miss and love Jon here at the Police Department and will grieve along with the citizens of this community," the release said.
Jennings is a writer for the Los Angeles Times and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.