Deputy Rosemary Iris May, 49, died in a traffic accident on Sept. 26, 1989. A vehicle being driven at a high rate of speed by Edgar Gastelum, 22, of Rosamond, who failed to stop at a stop sign, hit May, who was driving an unmarked Los Angeles Co. Sheriff’s Department vehicle in Lancaster.
May was rushed by ambulance to the A.V. Medical Center in Lancaster where she was pronounced dead on arrival.
Gastelum was booked for vehicular manslaughter. He eventually pled guilty to one count of manslaughter in return for the dropping of three other charges and was sentenced on Oct. 12, 1989, to one year in jail.
May, who preferred the name Iris rather than Rosemary, was raised in Long Beach and graduated from St. Anthony Catholic High School in 1958. She also attended Long Beach City College and Long Beach State College.
She joined the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on Aug. 22, 1968, and served as an “Off the Streeter,” a deputy who was assigned to clerical work “off the street” until assigned to an Academy class, for two months before attending the Sheriff’s Academy Sept. 16, to Nov. 10, 1968. Her first assignment was as a corrections officer at the Sybil Brand Institute for Women from 1968 to April 1973. She worked at the Lakewood Station from April 1973 to September 1973, before being assigned to “Management Staff Services” from September 1973 to March 1976.
From March 1976 to January 1985, May served in the Health and Welfare Section of the Sheriff’s Department where she dealt with injuries and illnesses of all Department employees and workers’ compensation benefits. She also helped coordinate funerals for employees who died “in service” or in the line of duty.
May transferred to the identification section of the crime lab (Scientific Services Bureau) in January 1985 and developed an expertise in fingerprint identification and crime scene investigation. She had “covered the Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys since 1985” and was transferred to the Lancaster station two years before her death.
On the day of her death, she had been taking fingerprint samples at several “Eastside locations” she was scheduled to visit that Tuesday. Sgt. Richard Ott and Sgt. Richard B. Jamison of the Lancaster station noted that May was quite proficient in her work and was able to get evidence – latent prints eight out of 10 times. The sergeants noted that other technicians were able to get prints in only four or five of ten cases.
May was on the Sheriff’s Pistol Team for several years and won several awards for her marksmanship. She also traveled to other cities with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s shooting team for inter-city meets. She was a 21-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department at the time of her death.
May was born on Dec. 9, 1939, in Illinois to John and Doris May. She was the third of three girls. Her sisters, June Ann and Diane Jean of Long Beach survived May.