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Fallen CHP Officer Philip Ortiz laid to rest

June 30, 2010 12:15:50 AM PDT
Funeral services were held on Wednesday to honor CHP Officer Philip Ortiz, the fifth CHP officer killed while on duty in the last two months.Officers gave a solemn salute, as they said their final goodbye to Ortiz.

Those who knew the 48-year-old said he cherished his job and loved serving the public. Ortiz spent 28 years with the CHP and was the highest in seniority among motorcycle officers at the West L.A. office.

"He was everything that every CHP officer should want to be. That's the kind of guy he was on a professional and personal level, and we're going to miss him on both those levels dearly," said CHP Sgt. Mark Garrett.

Ortiz was run down by a driver on the northbound 405 Freeway near the National Boulevard exit on June 9.

Ortiz, who was a motorcycle officer, had stopped an SUV and was writing a ticket when he was hit from behind by a driver who was using the shoulder of the road to try to get around traffic to the off-ramp.

Ortiz spent nearly two weeks in a coma before succumbing to his injuries.

"I had 13 more days to say goodbye," said the wife Ortiz left behind, Jessica, who underwent surgery for breast cancer shortly after her late husband died. "It was nice to take care of him for a change, because he always took care of me."

The driver who hit Ortiz, 31-year-old Brandon Brown of Compton, has not been charged, but the accident remains under investigation.

This year has already been the deadliest year for the CHP in more than a decade. Ortiz was the fifth officer to be killed in the line of duty in the last two months, and it has some asking if it's time to renew procedures used during traffic stops.

Hundreds of officers from around the country turned out at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels to pay their respects, many of them fellow motor officers. There were about 800 patrol cars at the church, and roughly another 200 motor officers.

"Amazing Grace" played in the background as his casket was ushered in by fellow officers. Cardinal Roger Mahony presided over the funeral mass.

"With the help of loving memories," said Cmdr. Joe Farrow of the CHP, "with prayers and time, we hope our pain will ease."

"Until our paths cross again, we honor and salute you," added CHP Capt. Ed Gingras.

"He really was my childhood hero," said his cousin, Robert Ortiz. "Even as an adult, I held him in such high regard."

His body will be laid to rest at Fox Hills. He would have celebrated his 49th birthday June 27.


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