Wednesday, September 19 , 2018, 2:12 am | Fair 62º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Section Of Highway 166 Will Be Named For Fallen Guadalupe Police Officer

Guadalupe Police Department's Samuel Sanchez died after a drunk driver struck his patrol vehicle while he was transporting inmates to jail in 1969

Guadalupe Public Safety Director Gary Hoving holds a copy of the sign to installed on Highway 166 dedicating the section between Bonita School Road and Simas Street in honor of fallen officer Samuel Sanchez.
Guadalupe Public Safety Director Gary Hoving holds a copy of the sign to installed on Highway 166 dedicating the section between Bonita School Road and Simas Street in honor of fallen officer Samuel Sanchez. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Nearly five decades after a Guadalupe police officer died in the line of duty his sacrifice will be remembered by naming a section of Highway 166 after him.  

The Officer Samuel Sanchez Memorial Highway will stretch from Highway 166 (West Main Street) between Bonita School Road and Simas Street, under legislation sponsored by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara.

“Officer Samuel Sanchez paid the ultimate sacrifice in the delivery of service to the citizens of Guadalupe,” Public Safety Director Gary Hoving said in the staff report to the City Council.

“Albeit delayed, it is most appropriate to recognize Officer Sanchez by the dedication of a section of roadway in his honor.”

Hoving told Noozhawk the agency’s officers had walked past a picture of Sanchez and a replica of his badge daily.

“It was intended to be a reminder to be safe out there, but what we missed was the true significance of the sacrifice,” Hoving said. 

“All of a sudden, it’s like the light came on — what have we done to honor this man? And then we realized, ‘Oh my gosh, we haven’t.’”

Sanchez was born on April 6, 1944, into a family of nine children, with several of his siblings also working in law enforcement careers.

Guadalupe police officer Samuel Sanchez died in a head-on collision with a drunk driver while transporting inmates to jail in 1969. Click to view larger
Guadalupe police officer Samuel Sanchez died in a head-on collision with a drunk driver while transporting inmates to jail in 1969.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

He joined the Guadalupe Police Department on Nov. 11, 1965, and served four years alongside his brother, Elias Sanchez.

On April 13, 1969, while transporting two inmates to jail, Samuel Sanchez was killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver on Highway 166, or West Main Street.

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

“That’s what we do every single day,” Hoving said.

A former Guadalupe officer, Kovena Avila, now with UCSB Police Department, spearheaded the effort on behalf of the Police Department, contacting Jackson’s staff to get the process started, according to Hoving.

Jackson’s proposal made its way through the approval process at the state level last year, and the item returned to Guadalupe where the City Council on Tuesday night approved the application for an encroachment permit so the signs can be installed.

Hoving hopes the signs and designation of a memorial highway also serve as a safety reminder for drivers using the main route linking Santa Maria and Guadalupe.

Funding for the sign must come from donations, with approximately $5,000 needed. Donations are being collected by the Guadalupe Police Officers Association.

It should take about 60 days to get the encroachment permit approved and Hoving expects a ceremony to unveil the new signs will take place this fall.

“We’re very very late, we’re sorry about our tardiness, but I think the fact that we can recognize the efforts of Samuel  Sanchez who was killed just doing his job — kind of like everybody does every single day — is extremely significant to us,” Hoving said.

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.

A segment of Highway 166 between Santa Maria and Guadalupe will remember Samuel Sanchez, a Guadalupe police officer killed in 1969. The section is between Simas Street and Bonita School Road. Click to view larger
A segment of Highway 166 between Santa Maria and Guadalupe will remember Samuel Sanchez, a Guadalupe police officer killed in 1969. The section is between Simas Street and Bonita School Road. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

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