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Highway 166 Memorial Signs Remember Guadalupe Police Officer Killed in 1969

Samuel ‘Sammy’ Sanchez died while transporting suspects to jail, Friday ceremony held on what would have been 74th birthday

A sign was dedicated Friday desginating the Guadalupe Officer Samuel Sanchez Memorial Highway on Highway 166 east of Guadalupe. Sanchez, a Guadalupe police officer, was killed in 1969 in a collision with a drunken driver. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo) Click to view larger
A sign was dedicated Friday desginating the Guadalupe Officer Samuel Sanchez Memorial Highway on Highway 166 east of Guadalupe. Sanchez, a Guadalupe police officer, was killed in 1969 in a collision with a drunken driver. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A segment of Highway 166 between Guadalupe and Santa Maria now serves as a permanent reminder of a fallen police officer’s service and sacrifice.

Guadalupe police Officer Samuel “Sammy” Sanchez died while he and a partner transported arrestees to jail in Santa Maria on April 13, 1969. Two inmates also died in the crash blamed on a drunken driver.

One sign for eastbound traffic now declares a section of Highway 166 (West Main Street) between Bonita School Road and Simas Street, as the Guadalupe Officer Samuel Sanchez Memorial Highway. A second sign for westbound traffic will be added.

A ceremony held in Guadalupe on Friday morning — on the day Sanchez would have turned 74 — marked the culmination of efforts to ensure he had not been forgotten.

Multiple members of the Sanchez family attended the ceremony along with several law enforcement members and legislators’ representatives.

Dora Sanchez, a niece of the fallen officer, read the obituary for the man who was 25 when he died.

“Samuel Sanchez was on duty and simply doing his job of protecting the community just like any other work day,” she said.

“He paid the ultimate price for protecting us and our community.”

In the keynote speech, Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley said she was “deeply moved” to hear about Sanchez, a police officer, a son, a brother, a friend and a father.

“I, like all of you, will never forget the supreme sacrifice that he, and then his family, made for the people of Guadalupe,” she said.

“Clearly, Officer Sanchez died a law enforcement professional, a title I consider synonymous with the words: A dedicated public servant of the highest degree.”

Those who join the law enforcement profession serve the public as they serve their families, Dudley added.

Guadalupe Mayor John Lizalde, Kristen Sanchez and police Chief Gary Hoving were among those participating in the dedication of a segment of Highway 166 as the Guadalupe Officer Samuel Sanchez Memorial Highway. Kristen Sanchez is the daughter of the later officer, who was killed in the line of duty in 1969. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo) Click to view larger
Guadalupe Mayor John Lizalde, Kristen Sanchez and police Chief Gary Hoving were among those participating in the dedication of a segment of Highway 166 as the Guadalupe Officer Samuel Sanchez Memorial Highway. Kristen Sanchez is the daughter of the later officer, who was killed in the line of duty in 1969. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“Therefore, it is my honor to stand before our law enforcement professionals and public servants — to honor one of our own, and the community he served, by once again saying we will never forget you Officer Sanchez,” she said.

“Today’s naming of the portion of our road will ensure that we will continue to be inspired by the great sacrifice made by you, your loving family and the people of Guadalupe.”

The ceremony, presided over by Guadalupe police Chief Gary Hoving also included an invocation by former Chief Chris Nartatez, a retired police sergeant, and a reading of “Thin Blue Line” by Sheriff Bill Brown.

Mayor John Lizalde presented a resolution adopted by the City Council and representatives of Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara; state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara; and Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, R-San Luis Obispo, also participated.

Efforts to remember Sanchez, who hailed from a family with multiple law enforcement officers, began several years ago and included state legislation by Jackson.

A former Guadalupe officer, Kovena Avila, who left to join the UC Santa Barbara Police Department, spearheaded the effort on behalf of the Guadalupe Police Department, contacting Jackson’s staff to get the process started, according to Hoving.

Although they didn’t know the fallen officer, Hoving said members of today’s police force feel it’s important to memorialize and recognize Sanchez, who died while doing a seemingly routine part of the job — transporting suspects to jail.

Each day, Guadalupe police officers had walked past a picture of Sanchez and a replica of his badge in the small department’s police station, as a reminder to be safe.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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