first_imgCHINO HILLS – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sheriff Lee Baca and an overflow crowd of 3,000 mourners gathered Monday to pay tribune to sheriff’s Detective Raul Vasquez Gama, killed May 1 when a motorist crashed into his surveillance van in North Hollywood. They remembered the 43-year-old father of four as a dedicated officer, a faithful Catholic and a devoted family man. “It was family first and foremost,” the Rev. Pat O’Hagan told the overflow crowd at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church. “He just loved to be with his family. He adored his children.” The love was obvious in the collage of family photos displayed at the church, showing Gama with his wife, Sandra, and their three daughters and young son, splashing in the pool or holding each other and laughing. “He was protecting all of us. We are his friends.” Gama was sitting in an unmarked sheriff’s van last Tuesday when it was struck by a 2006 Honda Element at Oxnard Street and Rhodes Avenue. The driver of the Element, 18-year-old Luis Yanez of San Fernando, was arrested on suspicion of felony manslaughter. He has not yet been charged and is free on bail. Sheriff Baca described Gama as a meticulous and dedicated officer and recalled the Medal of Valor he earned for rescuing a family buried in debris after a train derailment in 2003. For the work he did and the example he set, Baca said the department owes Gama its heartfelt thanks. “It’s his day,” Baca said, “and I’m grateful he was a member of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department – and will always be a member of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.” [email protected] (909) 483-9355160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Captions included “Our Daddy,” “Family Man” and “Our Hero.” O’Hagan urged the family to hold strong to faith and let the prayers of the many who came to honor Gama fill the vacuum in their hearts. “Death is not the end of life,” he said. “Death is truly the beginning of life.” O’Hagan said Gama was a hero by every measure. “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. last_img read more