Kings County Sheriff’s Deputy Allen T. Sharra was responding to a call for assistance with his teen ride-along on Dec. 27, when his patrol car flew off a dirt road and slammed into an irrigation-canal embankment near Lemoore.
Luis Verdugo, a 15-year-old sheriff’s Explorer Scout, who was riding along, was hurled through the windshield upon impact. He suffered two broken ankles and a lacerated liver. Verdugo climbed back into the patrol car to radio for medical assistance not realizing that Sharra, 31, had died on impact. Sheriff Ken Marvin announced that the accident happened while Sharra was responding to a call in a cotton field from another deputy. The other deputy, whose name wasn’t released, called for assistance after he found a vehicle in the field that he believed had been used in a crime the previous night.
Marvin continued, “This is a very tragic thing for the entire department. We deal with death all the time. But it’s harder when it’s one of your own. He was a part of our family.”
Hundreds of law enforcement officers turned out in Hanford at the Glad Tidings Church on Jan. 4, to say goodbye to Sharra. Verdugo, wearing his Explorer uniform and seated in a wheelchair, also attended the three-hour service to pay his final respects to his mentor.
In his eulogy, Marvin spoke of Sharra’s exuberance, which he first experienced when interviewing him for his job less than a year ago. Marvin said, “It was obvious that just the prospect of being hired as a full-time law enforcement officer was so exciting to him. And after I gave him the job, he must have thanked me dozens of times. From then on, he would volunteer for anything that would keep him in that uniform a little longer.”
Marvin ended his speech by telling Sharra’s family to remember that their son, father and husband should be remembered as a hero.
“He will not be forgotten,” Marvin said.
Attorney General Bill Lockyer, the state’s top law enforcement official, attended the service to offer praise and comfort. He gave the family his condolences in their time of grief. He reiterated that they were there to honor not Sharra’s death, but his life.
Lockyer stated, “When Sharra first put on his badge, he knew what was right and just, and throughout his career he has shown his dedication to the people of Kings County, the state and his country. I join you to salute this fallen hero.”
The funeral service at the Hanford Cemetery concluded when Sharra’s pallbearers ended their duty by removing their white cotton gloves and placing them on their comrade’s casket. Wreaths of red roses, a specific request by Sharra’s wife, were then “sent to Heaven” with her husband.
Sharra, who was born in Pittsburgh, PA, joined the U.S. Navy immediately after graduating from high school in 1986. He served as an avionics mechanic until August 1995. He continued his service to his community and country as a sergeant in the Army National Guard.
Sharra continued his education at the West Hills Community College from 1991 to 1994 where he majored in Administration of Justice and law enforcement. He graduated from the P.O.S.T. Basic Police Academy at the College of Sequoias in Visalia in December 1998.
With Sharra’s prior military history, he was no stranger to public service and devotion to community. He began his law enforcement career in 1993 as a reserve police officer for the city of Huron.
Sheriff Marvin hired him on April 8, 1999, after graduating from the academy. He worked patrol in the Hanford/Lemoore areas.
Sharra’s death is only the second in more than 100 years for the Kings County Sheriff’s Department.
In addition to his wife, Gina, survivors include his daughter, Melissa; son, Richard; stepson, Carl Hatfield; parents, James and Anna Sharra; stepmother, Robin Sharra; and stepsister, Paula.
A special fund for the Sharra family has been set up. Donations may be sent to the Allen Thomas Sharra Fund at the Kings County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, P.O. Box 206, Hanford, CA 93232.