The officer, identified as 42-year-old Jon Coutchie, was killed in the accident around 11:30 p.m. at the intersection of South Coast Highway and Cleo Street in Laguna Beach.
Police said Coutchie was going northbound on South Coast Highway trying to locate a speeding vehicle that had eluded another officer, when his motorcycle collided with a Chevrolet pickup truck that attempted to make a turn. He died at the scene.
"It sounded like a truck hit another truck. As soon as I saw him go down, I ran to help the poor guy, and he was already lifeless," said Ian Paul, a witness. "I tried to talk to the officer, but there was no response. It was pretty much too late. It was hard to look at."
"Our department is just really going through a rough time right now because he was someone that everyone looked upon very fondly and truly loved him," said Laguna Beach police Capt. Jason Kravetz. "It's just going to be a while for us.
Coutchie spent four years in the military as an Army Ranger. He enlisted after the Sept. 11 attacks and completed tours of duties in Iraq and Afghanistan. He had been with the Laguna Beach Police Department since 2009.
Coutchie was born in Tucson, Ariz., but was raised in Orange County. He graduated from Laguna Hills High School. This is the first death of an on-duty Laguna Beach officer since 1953.
The truck's driver and two passengers were not injured. They were questioned, but no arrests were made.
When officers arriving on the scene of the accident realized that Coutchie had passed away, we're told one of them went to a store and got an American flag. They draped the flag over his body in tribute to his service as an Army Ranger and Laguna Beach police officer.
Flowers, an American flag and a photo of Coutchie were left at the intersection where he died. Fellow officers said he loved his job, was always the first one in and the last one out.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris offered her condolences to the Laguna Beach Police Department and Coutchie's family. She said the state and residents will always remember Coutchie and honor him for his service.
The crash remains under investigation.