“He was saving lives, protecting the public. He was doing his job, and he did it well.” Those were the words of CHP Commissioner Mike Brown at the memorial services for Officer Erick Manny, age 35 and a four-year CHP veteran.
On the morning of December 21, 2005, Officer Manny was killed in a single car accident on I-5 near the Grapevine, while in pursuit of a driver speeding upwards of 100 mph. During the chase, Manny swerved to avoid a truck that cut him off, witnesses told authorities. Manny’s car rolled down an embankment and came to rest on the Grapevine exit off ramp. Before the crash, Manny was able to radio in a description of the vehicle – a late-model black Acura RSX. In Manny’s last communication over the police radio, he referred to a “failure to yield” and then was not heard from again.
Investigators believe the speeder knew he or she was being followed based on witness reports that the Acura was weaving in and out of traffic to evade Manny, as well as the distance the chase covered. Investigators have contacted the vehicle manufacturer and will attempt to find the driver, even if that means considering every black Acura in the state.
Officer Manny was remembered not only as an officer, but as a friend and family man, leaving behind his wife Ronina and two young children: son Toran (11) and daughter Teagan (8). As she paused at her husband’s casket, Ronina bent down to kiss their children. Family friend Kevin Burton read a letter written by Ronina. “I know Erick would not want us to be sad, he’d want us to remember all the great times.”
“You couldn’t ask for a better man. He was the definition of a caring and gentle man,” Burton said. “He loved his job dearly.” Burton had known Manny since they were both about 19 years old and worked as emergency medical technicians. Manny was inspired to join the CHP by the death of Officer Richard Maxwell in 1994. Manny was part of the ambulance crew that responded when Maxwell was shot to death in a gunbattle. It was the camaraderie he saw among CHP officers at that time that encouraged him to join.
Officials at Hall Ambulance Service, where Manny worked as a paramedic for several years, expressed their condolences. “The community has suffered a tremendous loss of a gentleman who dedicated his life to serving, protecting and caring for others,” they said.
Lt. Rick Odom, Manny’s commanding officer in the Fort Tejon CHP office, remembered Manny as an upbeat guy who never said bad things about others. “He had a great sense of humor and was known to play a few practical jokes,” Odom said during the service. Odom said the small tight knit office won’t be the same, “He’s already missed.”
After the memorial service, members of the public lined the procession route from Valley Baptist to Hillcrest Memorial Park, where Manny was laid to rest.