A former police officer of the year was killed June 22 when his sheriff’s department motorcycle collided head-on with a pickup truck in Norco.
Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy Randy R. Lutz, 29, assigned to a recently established sheriff’s department traffic detail in Norco, had been on motorcycle patrol in that city for less than two weeks.
Lutz was southbound when he came upon slow or stopped traffic, said Sgt. Don Farrar of the county Sheriff’s Department.
He apparently swerved his motorcycle into the center lane to avoid the traffic jam, Faraar said, and collided with a pickup truck.
“It looks like (Lutz) tried to make a basic maneuver and wasn’t able to do it,” said Farrar, standing a few feet from the strewn wreckage of the large black and white sheriff’s department motorcycle.
Lutz was named officer of the year in 1986 while with the San Jacinto Police Department.
More recently, he was a 1988 nominee for peace officer the year for his role in the aftermath of the gunshot wounding of Deputy Joseph Cleary in Moreno Valley in early 1988. Lutz’s actions, including his part in a vehicle pursuit, led to arrests and convictions in the case.
“At one time he was trying to work on getting a traffic program going here,” said former colleague Sgt. Randy Hicks of the San Jacinto Police Department. “He was an all right guy, absolutely.”
Witnesses at the scene said several motorists stopped to help the injured motorcycle deputy. One passerby expertly administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation until an ambulance arrived.
Lutz began his law enforcement career in 1982 with the California State Police. He was an officer with the San Jacinto Police Department from 1983 until 1987, when he joined the sheriff’s department.
Lutz had been the adviser for the Riverside sheriff’s explorers post for the past two years and helped to establish a countywide explorer academy.
“He was one hell of a guy and we all loved him,” said 19-year-old explorer David Poplin of Riverside. “He was like a father to some of the guys. He was always there when you needed him.”
Lutz was a patrol deputy in Norco until becoming a motorcycle officer a few months ago.
Motorcycle patrol officially began in Norco in May after the city applied for and received a $305,000 state grant to train and pay two motorcycle officers.
The city provided about $30,000 to buy the two motorcycles and special equipment for the officers.
Deputy Randy Lutz was survived by his wife, Kimberly, and his two daughters. He was also survived by his parents and one sister. Deputy Lutz was born in Aurora, Illinois.