A Memorial Flag Raising ceremony unfolds Friday at the Aptos California Highway Patrol office for Officer John Pedro, who died while on duty in 2002. —Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

APTOS—A brief Memorial Flag Raising ceremony was held early Friday at the California Highway Patrol (CHP) office for Officer John Pedro, who died while on duty on June 3, 2002.

A flag was raised to half staff at the ceremony that was headed up by Capt. Aaron Ching. At the close of the event, Ching presented a bouquet of flowers to Colleen Gilmartin, the widow of Pedro who was also a CHP officer.

​On June 3, 2002 just before 7am Pedro was patrolling in the southern end of Santa Cruz County in a specially-marked patrol vehicle, working commercial enforcement. He had turned in the center median to northbound State Route 1 and was traveling at an undetermined speed with his emergency lights activated. 

For unknown reasons, he lost control of his vehicle while negotiating the northbound off-ramp to eastbound Highway 129, or Riverside Drive. The car hit a large tree broadside, shearing it off and overturning the car. The impact killed Pedro instantly, the CHP said.

Preliminary reports indicated that Officer Pedro was attempting to overtake and conduct an enforcement action on a vehicle that had exited the off-ramp.

At the time of his death, he was 36 years old and had been a CHP officer for 12 years.

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Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. More recently Good Times & Press Banner. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


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