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California

L.A. County sheriff’s sergeant responding to stolen vehicle call dies after possible medical emergency

A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sergeant’s death while responding to a stolen-vehicle report Monday might have been caused by a medical emergency, officials said. 

The sergeant, identified as Al Lopez, was responding to “an assist on a stolen vehicle” at about 5:15 a.m. when what authorities described as a “single-vehicle collision” occurred at Willowbrook Avenue and Myrrh Street, Deputy Caroline Rodriguez said.

In a news conference Monday, Sheriff Jim McDonnell said Lopez was found about 100 yards away from the station. The pursuit had been canceled just as Lopez was driving out of the parking lot. 

A citizen came to the station and reported to desk deputies that a deputy was in a black and white that appeared to have crashed into a fence and was unresponsive, McDonnell said.

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“We have not yet got any additional information as to what happened in that 100 yards but by all indications, it looks like it may have been a medical emergency,” McDonnell said. 

Deputies ran out of the station, performed CPR and got an ambulance to transport Lopez to a local hospital, where he had passed away, sheriff’s officials said.

Lopez was a 26-year veteran of the department, Rodriguez said. He was assigned to the Compton station. 

“Well respected by his peers, by everybody who had the opportunity to work with him, so it is a tremendous loss to all of us,” McDonnell said. 

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He is the second L.A. County sheriff’s sergeant to die in the line of duty this month. Steve Owen, 53, was fatally shot behind an apartment building near Antelope Valley College in Lancaster by a burglary suspect on Oct. 5.

“Mourning the loss of one fallen brother is hard enough,” said Brian Moriguchi, president of the union that represents sheriff’s supervisors. “But two in the span of three weeks seems unbearable. This is when the department and this union truly feels like a close-knit family. We’ll grieve together, but we’ll also stand firmly for those left behind.”

brittny.mejia@latimes.com

Twitter: @brittny_mejia

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UPDATES:

2:15 p.m.: This article was updated with details on what officials believed caused the death of Sgt. Lopez.

12:50 p.m.: This article was updated with details on Sgt. Al Lopez.

9:28 a.m.: This article was updated with the name of the sergeant. 

7:53 a.m.: This article was updated with news of the sergeant’s death.

7:20 a.m.: This article was updated with the sergeant’s condition.

This article was originally published at 6:45 a.m.


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