An Escondido neighborhood honored two San Diego Police detectives Sunday who were killed by a wrong-way driver on Interstate 5 in San Ysidro.
San Diego Police Detective Jamie Huntley-Park and her husband, Detective Ryan Park, only lived in Escondido’s Harmony Grove Village community for a few years, but the tremendous turnout at Sunday night's vigil organized by neighbors showed just how much the couple is loved and sorely missed.
SDPD Detectives Killed in I-5 Wrong-Way Crash
Officers with multiple San Diego police agencies joined grieving family members, friends and neighbors at 4th of July Park inside the community to pay tribute.
Neighbors started planning the event after hearing the news and said they were shocked to see how many people turned out for the emotional event.
“They were public servants, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, athletes, coaches and mentors,” said San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit. “They were such special people—to be lost so soon, it’s beyond tragic.”
People honored the fallen officers through prayer, song, as well as silence before a flyover by a San Diego Police Department helicopter.
Mayor Todd Gloria and members of the San Diego Angels girls hockey team that Jamie coached were also among those in attendance.
“To the Angels, you have a new angel watching over you,” said Brad Thomas, a neighbor who knew the couple and helped organize the event. “Your responsibility now is to always remember [Jamie].”
Alex Morrison, a close friend of the couple, says the community will remember Jamie and Ryan in small ways every day.
“Love unconditionally, take advantage of opportunities that present themselves, hold one another, laugh when you can, always find reason to smile,” Morrison said.
The San Diego Police Officers Association is working on creating a memorial fund to help support the couple’s families.
“This neighborhood is 700 homes strong and once you live here, you're family,” said Thomas.
Jamie Huntley-Park, 33, and Ryan Park, 32, were driving on Interstate 5 in San Ysidro Friday morning when a female, driving a Honda Civic, crashed head-on into the couple’s unmarked blue sedan. All three died at the scene.
Huntley-Park, a detective with SDPD’s Southern Division, was the head coach for the San Diego Angels, a girl’s hockey team where she mentored dozens.
A fellow coach spoke with NBC 7 and said Huntley-Park hoped to referee at the 2022 winter Olympics, after just missing out on the opportunity in 2018.
Her husband, a homicide detective, was a fierce supporter with the same giving spirit, the coach described him.
Family and friends are still trying to process their loss.
"They live in our neighborhood and we want to let them know they are remembered and a big part of this community and that they were loved, and we appreciate what they did," said Gabriella Reichel, a neighbor to the couple.
There is now a growing memorial at the San Diego Police headquarters in downtown with flowers, candles and messages for the couple.
Investigators are still working to determine where the wrong-way driver entered the freeway.