On the evening of April 23 the Solano County Sheriff’s Department lost one of its most valued members, Reserve Deputy John Sandlin.
Sandlin and his partner, Deputy Jason Roper, had been backing up other deputies on a traffic stop when a vehicle passed them at a high rate of speed. The deputies gave chase and while negotiating a curve on the road the patrol car apparently slipped off the shoulder, hit a rock and flipped.
Deputy Sandlin was ejected from the vehicle and suffered blunt force trauma, resulting in his death. Deputy Roper suffered minor cuts and bruises, was treated and released.
The day following the tragic accident, several individuals left flowers at the scene in an overt expression of devotion and remembrance.
Deputy Sandlin, 66 years old, had been a “Citizen Peace Officer” with Solano County for more than 20 years. He is the third Deputy to lose his life In the Line of Duty in the history of the Department.
A retired naval officer and long time resident of Vallejo, Sandlin first volunteered with the Sheriff’s department as a pilot in the Aero Bureau. During his many years of service he typically volunteered 500-600 hours of his time each year in a myriad of assignments, performing each and every one of them in an exemplary manner.
Sheriff Gary Stanton, a personal friend of Sandlin, lamented his loss “John was a mentor and peer counselor to our younger deputies. He had an awful lot to offer. He was doing a job that he truly loved. Not too many people volunteer to take this risk”, the Sheriff said.
In August 2003, Deputy Sandlin was decorated with the Department’s prestigious Medal of Valor and Purple Heart. This followed an incident several months earlier when Sandlin was guarding an inmate at a local hospital and the inmate attempted to escape. The inmate, bigger and 20 years younger than Sandlin punched the deputy in the face, sprayed him with pepper spray and tried to grab his gun. Seriously injured, Sandlin courageously took control of the situation, was able to draw his service weapon and back the inmate down.
Sandlin’s actions on this occasion were indicative of his courage and commitment to do a good job. Sheriff’s Captain Frank Lucas observed that he “absolutely loved being a reserve deputy and his enthusiasm for the job was infectious”.
On Wednesday morning May 5 several hundred peace officers representing a broad spectrum of law enforcement agencies statewide gathered at the Solano County fairgrounds in Vallejo, joining family members, friends and local dignitaries, to pay their final respects to a fallen comrade. A Catholic mass and interment were conducted in private.
Deputy John Sandlin is survived by his wife Kay Talbot and three adult daughters, Susan, Lori and Lizabeth.
A trust fund has been established:
Deputy John Sandlin Memorial Trust Fund
Account # 48677
CMT Federal Credit Union
P.O. Box 5040
Fairfield, CA 94533-0682