A California Highway Patrol Officer was killed and at least two other people were injured in a crash on the 15 Freeway in Lake Elsinore Saturday, authorities said.
The crash resulted in the closure of all southbound lanes of the 15 Freeway from Indian Truck Trail to Nichols Road, Caltrans said.
The incident happened on the freeway near Nichols Road at around 4:30 p.m. when a black sedan and the officer’s motorcycle crashed, CHP incident logs showed.
Authorities identified the officer killed as Sgt. Steve Licon of the CHP Riverside Area.
A total of three people were injured and transported to a hospital in unknown condition, Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department spokesperson Tawny Cabral said.
It is unclear whether Licon was one of the three people initially reported injured.
Authorities told the Los Angeles Times that it appears Licon was hit by an “errant driver” while conducting a traffic stop on the shoulder of the freeway.
Traffic on the freeway was being diverted off to Indian Truck Trail, Caltrans said in a tweet. Video showed cars stopped bumber-to-bumper on the freeway.
As of 10 p.m., the lanes remained closed for an unknown duration.
“Our hearts are heavy after the immeasurable loss of a friend, father, husband, and hero,” CHP said in a written statement on Facebook.”Rest easy brother, we have the watch from here.”
A long police procession escorted Licon’s hearse to the Riverside County Coroner’s Office after a large group of officers and residents gathered outside a Wildomar hospital to pay their respects to Licon.
“Sgt Licon was a great leader, valued member of the CHP family, & a dedicated public servant who sacrificed his life serving the people of Calif. Condolences to wife Ann, & daughters Marissa & Kelly,” CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley said in a tweet.
Authorities did not provide information on what led to the crash.
Traffic congestion on the 15 Freeway in Lake Elsinore had increased on weekends due to people visiting to see the poppy bloom along the interstate. Last week, CHP warned about safety issues on the 15 Freeway, reminding motorists that it is illegal to stop on onramps or on the shoulder of the freeway, and said that drivers were slowing down traffic by glancing at the flowers.
It is unknown if the crash was related to slow-moving traffic in the area.
No further details were immediately available.
Incredibly sad day for the family of Sgt Steve Licon, the CHP, & State of Calif. Sgt Licon was a great leader, valued member of the CHP family, & a dedicated public servant who sacrificed his life serving the people of Calif. Condolences to wife Ann, & daughters Marissa & Kelly. pic.twitter.com/avKiaiQ03T
— Warren Stanley (@CHPCommissioner) April 7, 2019
— Carlos Saucedo (@Carlos_Saucedo) April 7, 2019
Just as we ride to honor officers that have made the ultimate sacrifice, we mourn the loss of another. Sgt Steve Licon of the CHP Riverside Area gave his life protecting & serving his community today. The thoughts & prayers of the LAPD are w/ his family & fellow officers tonight. pic.twitter.com/SPwOThylBQ
— Chief Michel Moore (@LAPDChiefMoore) April 7, 2019