It was a poignant story, the kind of tale that reduces scores of hardened police veterans to tears.
Without fail, Sheriff’s Deputy Kent Hintergardt could play gently with his 16-month-old daughter Marissa, whenever he got home from work, recalled his good friend, Deputy Kevin Koehler. But early Sunday morning, May 9, 1993, Hintergardt’s wife, Linda, awoke to hear her daughter joyously giggling for no apparent reason.
Later that morning Linda Hintergardt would learn that her daughter had awakened just moments after her husband had been shot and killed. Through some miracle, Koehler noted, Kent Hintergardt had come home one last time.
More than 2,500 police officers from Southern California converged in Riverside to pay their last respects for the slain sheriff’s deputy who was shot in the head at close range as he stood in the parking lot of a Temecula apartment complex where he was investigating an early-morning domestic dispute.
At the funeral service at Harvest Christian Fellowship on Arlington Avenue, and later during graveside services at Crestlawn Memorial Park, it was clear that the loss of the man who many were calling one of the best deputies in the Sheriff’s Department had hit hard.
“This is the most difficult of duties,” said Sheriff Cois Byrd, as he began a brief eulogy for the deputy who was shot and killed by a man who choked his girlfriend to death and later shot and killed himself.
The death of the former Los Angeles jail deputy assigned to the Temecula Police Department, Byrd said, “is a loss to the entire community of a fine, outstanding young man who had his life in front of him.”
Hintergardt, 33, was survived by his pregnant wife, Linda, who works as a nurse, and their daughter Marissa.
Linda Hintergardt said her husband was a sportsman and athlete. He loved boating and water and snow skiing. He ran and kept in good physical shape. The family enjoyed spending weekends at their mountain cabin.
She said her husband started his law-enforcement career in 1989 as a deputy with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, after graduating from the LA County Sheriff’s Academy.
“He always was the guy who helped us look at the bright side of a situation, Deputy Koehler who worked with Hintergardt in Temecula. “He didn’t complain, and the people on the streets didn’t complain about him.”
Hintergardt was also recalled as a doting father who loved his daughter Marissa, as much as life itself.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Doug Shive said he got to know Hintergardt when they both attended the sheriff’s academy in South Whittier.
“The same characteristics he had as a boy, he brought with him as a man,” Shive told those gathered.
Shive concluded his eulogy saying, “The greatest tragedy is not a short life, but an empty life… Kent lived a full life.”
A trust fund has been set up for Hintergardt’s widow and children. Please send contributions to: Linda Hintergardt, North County Bank, 27425 Ynez Road, Temecula, CA 92593.