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Valley Motorcycle Officer Dies After Being Struck by Alleged Impaired Motorist PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia, San Fernando Valley Sun / El Sol and City News Service   
Thursday, 10 April 2014 02:58

Community Had Shown Support With A Large Blood Drive

A Los Angeles Police Department motorcycle officer who was struck by an SUV driven by an alleged impaired driver in Sun Valley died Wednesday, April 9.

Officer Chris Cortijo, a 26- year veteran, was struck around 5:30 p.m. Saturday while waiting at a red light at Lankershim Boulevard and Saticoy Street.

The LAPD's Valley Traffic Division, where the officer worked, announced the officer's death via Twitter, saying, "It is with great sadness and a heavy heart we regret to announce the passing of our LAPD Brother in Blue. RIP We will miss you!"

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck wrote on his Twitter page, "It is with great sadness I bear the news (of) Officer Chris Cortijo passing this afternoon. God bless his family."

LAPD Capt. Maureen Ryan, commander of the Valley Traffic Division station in Panorama City tweeted, “Thank you for all your hard work and dedication you will be greatly missed. RIP brother. Our thoughts & prayers remain with your family.”

A Pacoima woman pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of driving under the influence of a drug and possession of cocaine.

Qaneak Shaney Cobb, 33, is accused of slamming her Chevrolet Blazer into the veteran officer as he was stopped at the intersection. The impact left the officer trapped between the Blazer and a Honda Accord that was in front of him.

It was not immediately known if Cobb would face additional charges. Cobb is scheduled to appear in Van Nuys Municipal Court today, April 10. She remains in custody at the Van Nuys jail in lieu of $235,000.

Earlier in the week police officers, Sheriff's deputies and people from all walks of life had shown up to donate blood in solidarity with Cortijo, who was being treated at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills.

“I donate blood regularly and anything we can do to help, I’m glad to do it,” said fellow officer Craig Majors, who works out of the LAPD West Valley station. He showed up on Tuesday, April 8, to donate at the LAPD Mission Division where the station's community room was turned into a blood donation center for the day.

“It’s shocking. It makes you upset,” said Majors. “And it makes you sad for the person involved. Their life is going to be over. It’s too bad people make poor choices.”

Ryan, commander of the Valley Traffic Division, said she and the Cortijo were partners 25 years ago.

“He’s a wonderful, wonderful man, a loving father and he is loved by all of us. He’s an extremely hard worker. He is somebody that we depend on daily.”

On Monday, April 7, more than 200 people showed up at Providence Holy Cross to donate blood.

“We saw an amazing turnout. (People) showed a wonderful sign of humanity and solidarity with the officer,” said Sandy Hibarger, coordinator for the medical center’s blood donor center.

She said the hospital staff collected more than 100 pints of blood, and people waited up to five hours to donate. Many more who showed up were unable to donate, so another blood drive was organized for Tuesday.

By noon on Tuesday, more than 50 people had already donated blood and more were expected to show up.

A total of 266 pints of blood were collected in the two days, Providence officials said.

“This can only be compared to the Chatsworth train wreck," said Hibarger, referring to the September 2008 incident that left 25 people dead and several dozen injured. After the crash, hospital officials put out a call for blood donations to help the injured.

Elizabeth Bille of the Sun Valley Neighborhood Council tried to donate blood on Monday, but the long wait dissuaded her. When she heard of a second day of blood donation, she and three other members of the council headed to the Mission Division station early.

“We don’t really accept that in our neighborhood. We wanted to come down and let our community know that and that we’re here to support the officer,” Bille said. The other two council members couldn’t donate blood because of medical reasons.

But Zach Haskell, an emergency medical technician, was able to donate.

“Police, Fire, EMS is one big family, and whenever one goes down everyone comes out and supports each other,” said the 20-year-old, who works for Bowers Ambulance Services.

“It’s horrible that people are out there driving under the influence. He (Cortijo) was supposed to go home to his family that night and now he’s in the hospital. It’s not right,” Haskell added.

That was the same feeling expressed by LAPD Officer Bradley Fajardo, who regularly donates blood about once a year and showed up in support of his colleague.

“It’s surreal. You know (a crash) could happen but when it gets this close, it really hits you. As a motor cop, they get a lot of training to try to prevent accidents, but some things you can never prevent,” he said.

Last Updated on Friday, 11 April 2014 17:00