A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy was killed while pursuing a traffic stop Thursday morning when a car struck his motorcycle in Lakewood, authorities said.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at an afternoon news conferencethat Deputy Thomas J. Albanese was headed north on Paramount Boulevard pursuing another car when he was killed in the busy intersection of Del Amo and Paramount boulevards. A woman heading west on Del Amo Boulevard in a Mercedes Benz collided with Albanese, Villanueva said
“The force of the collision, which was, it was extreme, it basically it threw him at a distance from the collision. He died instantaneously on impact,” Villanueva said.
Albanese, 41, a seven-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department, was working overtime when he was killed just before 9 a.m., Villanueva said.
A 10-year Marine Corps veteran, he served four tours in Iraq. After joining the department in July 2013, he rose through the ranks, working at the Men’s Central Jail, the transit services bureau and the Lakewood station, just a couple of miles away from where he was killed. In March, Albanese finished his training to become a motorcycle deputy — “his dream,” Villanueva said — and had been assigned to the Pico Rivera station since.
“He has received many commendations because of his attention to duty and his service to the community,” Villanueva said. “He will be greatly missed.”
Albanese is survived by his wife and two sons, ages 7 and 11.
Today, I am saddened to announce that an @LASDHQ motor deputy was killed in a traffic collision this morning near Del Amo blvd and Paramount Blvd. This is all the info I can share at this time. Please be patient as we gather facts. We will hold a news conference soon.
— Alex Villanueva (@LACoSheriff) February 25, 2021
First responders treated the woman driving the Mercedes Benz on scene, Villanueva said. The department will be investigating the incident, including seeking out area video footage.
“She may have had the green and [was] rolling through on the green, but the intersection wasn’t clear yet,” Villanueva said of the Mercedes Benz driver. “The investigators will be able to piece together the sequence of events.”
A procession of deputies escorted Albanese’s remains to the coroner’s office. Some Lakewood residents saluted the parade as it passed, Villanueva said. Community members donated a colorful array of flowers at the site of the Thursday afternoon news conference.
More than 130 sheriff’s deputies have been killed in the line of duty since the department’s formation in the 1850s, according to Officer Down Memorial Page, a nonprofit organization that tracks law enforcement deaths.
The crash came just hours after a motorcycle officer with the Los Angeles Police Department was struck by an SUV in Jefferson Park.
The officer, who was not identified, was assisting at least two other patrol units about 9:20 p.m. Wednesday. They had stopped the driver of a suspected stolen vehicle near Adams Boulevard and 13th Avenue when an SUV struck the motorcycle officer, L.A. Police Officer Jeff Lee said.
The injured officer was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and was in stable condition, Lee said. The SUV driver was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, authorities said.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.