A National City police officer was killed while on duty June 24, the first in the history of the department.
Officer Robert Medina, 28, died in a fiery crash near Rancho Penasquitos on Interstate 15, south of Carmel Mountain Road. Acting Captain Tom Deese said he was returning in a patrol car from a parole hearing at Chino State Prison.
Medina lived in Chula Vista with his wife, Paula.
Officers paid their respects for Medina by wearing black mourning bands on their badges during the week.
“Everybody is taking it hard. It’s tough getting over the initial shock of it,” Deese said. “There was nothing he could have done to avoid it.”
A California Highway Patrol spokesman said one other person was killed in the accident, which occurred at 4:36 p.m. A 79-year-old La Mesa woman, Alice Bertha Fountain, died at Scripps Memorial Hospital, according to Deputy Coroner David Lodge. Medina died at Sharp Memorial Hospital at 6:41 p.m. suffering from massive trauma.
Medina died after a car driven by Fountain’s husband, Everett, crossed over the center divider and collided with his patrol car. The officer’s car exploded into flames and traveled from the fast lane into the slower lanes, striking another vehicle, the spokesman said.
“Robert Medina has passed on, but many remember him as a cop who loved his job.”
National City officers were in full dress uniform, and started lining up at Jack Murphy Stadium about an hour before going on to The First United Methodist Church in Mission Valley.
After his funeral, a long line of patrol cards drove down the freeway, with exits along the route closed to traffic. Several agencies attended the Episcopal services, including about 25 Chula Vista officers.
Pallbearers were all National City officers. They were Lieutenant Craig Short and Sergeant Mike Iglesias, officers Carl Pittman, Tim Patton, Cliff Breeden, and Detective Mark Musgrove.
Medina was buried at Greenwood Cemetery, with his widow, Paula, accepting a flag and plaque from acting Capt. Tom Deese.
The National City Police Department hosted a reception after the burial at Granger Music Hall.
During an interview, Medina’s wife, Paula, was calm but obviously shaken by her husband’s death. She spoke quietly but firmly about how she was feeling.
“Considering the loss, right now I feel I’m being pretty strong,” she said. “We had a real special love. Everyone said we had a glow when we were together. I feel very lucky to have known him and feel I was made a better person by knowing him.”
Paula and Robert would have celebrated their first wedding anniversary July 14.
Medina, 28, graduated from Madison High School in 1976, and spent two years at the University of San Diego studying criminal justice. He then tested for the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, graduating from the academy fourth in a class of 300.
Medina served at the Poway Sheriff’s Office for six years, also working in the San Diego County Jail for three years.
In Poway, he was a traffic investigator and translator. He was bilingual, often interviewing Spanish-speaking subjects, a skill which he carried over to the National City force.
Larry Jacqout of the Poway Sheriff’s Office knew Medina well. Jacquot served with National City police for 15 years.
“He will be sorely missed by his friends with the Sheriff’s office and in National City. I didn’t socialize with him a lot because he was much younger than me, but he was a real top cop,” Jacquot said.
Iglesias, Medina’s squad leader, said he had been on the force for about a year. He died two days short of ending his probationary period.