GARDENA (CBSLA) — A vigil took place Friday night at Gardena Police Department for a motorcycle officer who died from injuries he sustained in a crash in Harbor City earlier this week.
The death of Officer Toshio Hirai, 34, was announced by an emotional Gardena Police Chief Tom Kang at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
“It is very difficult and it is very heartbreaking,” Gardena Police Department Chief Thomas Kang said at a Thursday night news conference outside the hospital. “I shed a lot of tears … as if Toshio was my own son. It’s devastating for me.”
Friday night Hirai’s wife, Kristen Hirai, thanked those attending the vigil for the outpouring of support, and remarked on the unthinkable loss of her husband.
“What would I not give for him to be here today,” she said.
Officers said she and her son would always be a part of Gardena P.D.
“We here at Gardena Police Department, we’re going to miss him,” one officer said.
Hirai was critically injured in a crash at Western Avenue and 238th Street at about 7:50 a.m. Wednesday, as he was on the way to work. The driver of the other vehicle stopped and cooperated with investigators from the LAPD, which is investigating the collision. Neither alcohol nor drugs were suspected in the crash.
Hirai was a 12-year veteran of the police department. He spoke five languages and worked as a traffic investigator and was a member of its SWAT team. He leaves behind a wife and 2-year-old son.
The Gardena Police Officers Association set up a donation site to assist Hirai’s family. Gardena police Lt. Steve Prendergast said it is the only legitimate online donation site for the fallen officer, his wife Kristen and their son.
Checks can also be made payable to the Gardena Police Officers’ Association (GPOA) and mailed to or dropped off at: Gardena Police Department, 1718 W. 162nd St., Gardena, CA 90247. All donations are tax deductible.