A memorial service was held Tuesday in Rancho Bernardo for two San Diego Police Department detectives, an "inseparable" husband and wife, who were killed in a head-on car crash earlier this month.
Family members, colleagues and loved ones remembered Ryan Park, 32, and wife Jamie Huntley-Park, 33, at the service at Maranatha Church with touching tributes to their tenacity, caring spirits and joy for life.
Both were devoted SDPD detectives -- Huntley-Park worked with SDPD’s Southern Division while Park was a homicide detective -- and cherished community members of their Escondido neighborhood.
San Diego Police Department Chief David Nisleit said Park and Huntley-Park met at the police academy in 2012.
"And, that’s really where their story kind of began. As far as those two, they’re really inseparable," he added. "They were either together and if they weren’t together they were talking about each other. That’s how I’ll remember them."
Huntley-Park was born at 2 pounds and quickly began losing weight. But when her father reached out his hand, she would grab his finger with a force that told him she was a fighter. From then on, he called her Bam Bam, after the Flintstone character who could toss around others 10-times his size.
She grew up in La Jolla and loved hockey; she was so good, it landed her a scholarship to a college in upstate New York.
“As a police officer, she was everything you would want in a cop," Nisleit said. "She was compassionate, tenacious, a great teammate. And, to say her future was nothing but bright would be a gross understatement.”
Park grew up in Los Angeles and and attended UCLA where he studied anthropogony. After graduating, he moved to San Diego and joined the academy where he met his future wife.
He was a gifted "but goofy runner," Nisleit said.
"Don’t mean any harm or foul by that," he quickly added. "If there was a puddle, Ryan would jump in it. If there was a dirt berm, he would run up and jump off of it, right before races. It would make me cringe because I didn’t want to see him get hurt."
The duo was struck head-on by a wrong-way driver on June 4 when they were traveling southbound on Interstate 5 in San Ysidro. They were off duty at the time but may have been performing background work on a case, according to SDPD Chief David Nisleit.
“Ever since June 4, when we all got that horrible call, the outpouring of support has been tremendous," Nisleit said as he expressed condolences to the Park and Huntley families at the memorial.
PHOTOS: Vigils Held in Remembrance of SDPD Officers Killed in Wrong-Way Crash
Park was part of SDPD's Baker to Vegas team, an annual run for law enforcement officers that takes place across 120 miles of desert. Next year, the couple will be honored at the race. The San Diego Police Department Open Team will be renamed the SDPD Team Ryan Park for the 2022 race. The women mixed 800 teams will all wear tributes to the couple and there will be a photo on their race bibs.
Nisleit said it was important for the police community to continue to remember and pay tribute to their legacy.
"To the SDPD family and all our law enforcement family to include fire rescue folks, I ask you a few simple things: never forget them. Hold their legacy to your hearts. They were exceptional cops, exceptional people."
The other driver in the collision, identified as 58-year-old Sandra Daniels also died in the crash.
"It’s just tragic,” Chief Nisleit said of the heartbreaking collision that affected each person’s family. “Any time a life is lost, it’s tragic. But to lose two detectives in a traffic accident, it’s a call a chief never wants to get.”
A procession was held for the two last week and their loved ones hosted vigils the weekend they died. The detectives will be remembered at a memorial held in their honor at 10 a.m. Tuesday from Maranatha Church, followed by a procession from the chapel to their burial site.