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Family member of fallen Hawthorne Officer Andrew Garton speaks out

May 28, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A family member of fallen Hawthorne Police Officer Andrew Garton said he was doing what he loved when he died.

Garton, 44, was killed Thursday when he collided with another officer, Sgt. Rex Fowler of the El Segundo Police Department, during a funeral escort for Manhattan Beach Police Officer Mark Vasquez, who died of cancer.

The crash happened just after noon near 227th Street and Hawthorne Boulevard in Torrance. Garton was thrown into oncoming traffic during the crash and landed on a vehicle. He was rushed to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where he was declared dead.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating the cause of the accident.

"Andrew was doing what he was known for: putting his needs ahead of others," said Garton's cousin, Eric Motley. "Andrew volunteered to ride for a funeral procession to show support for the family of a fallen officer."

Fowler remains in the hospital but is expected to recover. He underwent surgery for a broken left leg.

Garton is the first officer to die in the line of duty in the Hawthorne Police Department's 89-year history. He leaves behind a wife and two sons, ages 7 and 12.

"His older son told me if this was to happen, it happened doing what he loved to do. That broke my heart," Motley said.

A memorial for Garton was set up inside the Hawthorne police department lobby. The small and close-knit department has been shaken by the tragedy.

"I had lunch with him the day before and he talked about how he wanted to help his fellow officers, how he cared about his police department," Hawthorne City Councilman Alex Vargas said. "He was talking about his sons and how he had to take them to baseball practice and that's why he couldn't get together with me for such a long time."

Garton's family says they are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.

"So many people have come just to introduce themselves, giving us their condolences and I thank everybody," Motley said.

Garton had been a motorcycle officer for about four years and was on the Hawthorne Police Department for more than seven years.

In Garton's honor, flags were positioned at half-staff outside the Hawthorne police station.

The Hawthorne Police Department has set up a trust fund to help Garton's family. Checks should be made out to Officer Andrew Garton Family c/o HPOA. Donations can be dropped off or mailed to:

Western Federal Credit Union
Acct# 654404-006

14500 S. Aviation Blvd.
Hawthorne, CA 90250

Hawthorne Police Department
12501 S. Hawthorne Blvd.
Hawthorne, CA 90250


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