It was a training exercise. Location: Burro Canyon, a shooting park in Azusa. It was June 14, 2011. Kevin Sandoval was a 3-year veteran of the South Pasadena Police Department. At some point during the day, he lost consciousness, fell to the ground, and hit his head. He passed away later that afternoon. He was 23-years-old.
Former Police Chief Dan Watson remembered Officer Sandoval. “It was my privilege to hire Kevin Sandoval as a Cadet, Reserve Officer, and regular Police Officer. He was a fine young man with a bright future. Quiet, humble, and serious about being the best officer he could be.”
“Kevin left us way too soon,” said Sargeant Tony Abdalla, a 23-year veteran of the Department and current Operations Watch Commander. He is also a disciplined cyclist, and will be honoring Officer Sandoval’s life as he rides in this year’s Police Unity Tour.
Begun in 1997 with only eighteen cyclists, in 2011, PUT had over 1,300 participants from across the country, riding to honor officers who had died in the line of duty and raising over $1.5 million for the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial in Washington D.C.
Sgt. Abdalla will begin his trek on May 10th in Somerset, New Jersey and travel over the next three days 229 miles to the nation’s capital. The end of the ride will be bittersweet—a candlelight vigil at the memorial. But in Sgt. Abdalla’s opinion, “It’s a way to keep Tony’s candle burning bright.”
Each rider is responsible for raising $1,800, with donations going to the NLEO Memorial and Museum (they do not cover Sgt. Abdalla’s equipment and logistical expenses). Donations are tax deductible and can be made online at socalput.com. “Any donation of any amount is greatly appreciated.”
Sgt. Abdalla will train most certainly on his own, but also through the PUT Southern California Chapter. On any given Saturday, starting at 0800 hours, you may very well pass him as he trains around the Los Angeles Zoo, the LAPD Pacific Station in Culver City, or along the Santa Clarita Lanes on Soledad Canyon Road, in Saugus.
The Police Unity Tour is an event to help raise awareness of police officers who have died in the line of duty. The dedicated cyclists ride to remember their colleagues and friends. “We ride for those who died.”