FULLERTON (CBSLA.com) — The California Highway Patrol will honor one of its own at the high school graduation of an Orange County teen whose father was fatally shot in the line of duty 18 years ago.
Cameron Burt, 17, will get his diploma Wednesday from Brea Olinda High School.
The CHP will make its presence known at the ceremony, congratulating Cameron as he walks across the stage while honoring his father, Don Burt, a rookie killed during a traffic stop in Fullerton in 1996.
“We don’t forget those who have served before, and that’s what we really want to show — our support — to Cameron and the family. CHP is a family, so just because they’re not here with us today, we don’t forget about them,” Officer Paul Fox told CBS2’s Michele Gile.
Don’s wife, Kristin Burt Cooper, was 10 weeks from giving birth to their baby boy when her husband was killed.
And while Cameron never met his father, the Brea teen says he’s grown up practically knowing everything about him because his dad’s fellow officers have been by his side all these years.
“They are there for my dad. They are there as his memory because I don’t have any memories of him, so they are there to give me the memories of him, and that is amazing,” Cameron said.
Kristin married a man who loved and raised Cameron and the couple have another son.
But the mother of two says she only has to look at the eyes of her older to be reminded of Don.
“He’s got his dad’s color eyes but a little bit of my shape. And from the neck down, he’s all dad,” Kristin said.
“And I’ve got my dad’s teeth too,” Cameron added.
“And your dad’s teeth,” his mom agreed.
Still, the matriarch finds it hard not to think about all of the memories her husband and their son could have shared.
“It is hard for me to think back of how much time has passed and what Don’s missed out on and what Cameron has missed out on because I remember 18 years ago sitting there and thinking about, ‘He’s going to miss his son’s graduation; he’s not going to be here to see this.’ And here we are,” she said.