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Westminster Crash Victim Hoped to Be a Police Officer

Times Staff Writer

Dawn Hammond, one of two victims killed in a collision with a speeding Westminster police car Christmas Day, had a goal. It was to become a police officer, relatives said Monday.

“She had her own reasons, but she wanted to become a police officer,” said Dawn’s father, Ken Hammond, adding that his 20-year-old daughter was studying criminal justice at Golden West College in Huntington Beach.

Hammond’s father said his daughter and her longtime friend, Jessica Warren, 19, a Fresno State student who lived in Stanton, were traveling to a Hammond family gathering on Christmas when they were hit broadside by the police car.

Warren, who was driving, had her car filled with gaily wrapped Christmas gifts in a back seat.

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“Dawn had just spent the night at Jessica’s, and Jessica was driving my sister to my brother’s house in Santa Ana, where our family was going to be spending Christmas,” said the victim’s brother, Steve Hammond, 23.

Lived Near Intersection

Warren had arrived home from school on Christmas Eve, Steve Hammond said. She lived about a mile from the intersection.

“They were friends ever since high school at La Quinta,” he added.

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Warren and Hammond were in a Honda Accord traveling south on Newland Street about 9 a.m. when they were struck by a patrol car traveling west with lights and siren going on Westminster Avenue.

The police officer driving the patrol car, whose name was not released by police, was responding to an “officer needs help” call about 3 miles from the accident scene. Police would not specify Monday the nature of the emergency.

The officer was following another patrol car that was responding to the same call and had traveled through the intersection. Witnesses reportedly estimated the speed of the second patrol car at about 75 m.p.h. when it struck Warren’s car.

Police issued no further information about the crash Monday. Both Westminster police and the California Highway Patrol are investigating the fatal accident.

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The unidentified officer involved in the crash spent Monday at home. He had been treated for minor injuries at a hospital and released Sunday.

Phone Calls of Sympathy

On Monday, dozens of relatives and friends of both victims expressed sympathy by telephone to both families.

“We’ve had a lot of people call us,” Steve Hammond said. “Dawn and Jessica had a lot of friends. . . . Both of them were always doing something. They always had positive things going in their lives.” He said Warren’s father had expressed anger toward police in a telephone call, citing the officer’s high rate of speed.

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“Hey, this guy was following another car with its lights and siren on,” Steve Hammond said, “but at that speed you may not be able to hear (a second car) coming towards you. Traveling 70 m.p.h. through an intersection just isn’t right.”

Ken Hammond agreed: “You don’t see other emergency vehicles doing that sort of speed. Even ambulances don’t travel that fast through an intersection. Nobody drives that fast.”

Hoped to Transfer

He said his daughter wanted a career in law enforcement and earned money for school working as a waitress at Silky Sullivan’s, an Irish pub-restaurant on Slater Avenue in Fountain Valley. She was planning to transfer to Fresno State or UC Santa Barbara in June after graduation.

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“She loved life,” he said. “She was one of those people who planned things like what to do after she graduated from Golden West.

“It’s been such a loss for us, such a big, big loss.”

Funeral arrangements are pending at Peek Family Colonial Funeral Home in Westminster.


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