Two California Highway Patrol officers who were killed while responding to a multi-vehicle crash have been identified.
Gov. Jerry Brown said Monday that the officers are 34-year-old Brian Law, of Clovis, and 33-year-old Juan Gonzalez, of Fresno. They both have been with the CHP since 2008.
Brown urged all Californians to honor the officers for their courage, commitment and service.
The officers were killed while responding to a pre-dawn crash that had been reported on state Route 99 in Kingsburg, less than 25 miles south of Fresno.
One of the people involved in the crash was on the road, and the officers tried to swerve out of the way when they lost control of their vehicle. It slammed into a guardrail and overturned.
The officers, both men, were in the same car because they had been working the graveyard shift, a standard procedure, said officer Axel Reyes, a CHP spokesman. The officers, whose names have not yet been released, are believed to be the first CHP fatalities in the line of duty in the Fresno area in about 16 years, he said.
Fellow CHP captains now have the painful task of notifying the fallen officers' families in Clovis and Tulare, as other officers deal with the loss of their colleagues.
"It's draining — a lot of the officers are drained," Reyes said. "Officers are having a tough time — some more than others."
The CHP's accident reconstruction teams remained at the site Monday afternoon to scour for evidence. Skid marks and fluid trails spread out over a couple of hundred feet from the center divider to the shoulder of the highway, Reyes said.
The original crash apparently occurred when a pickup truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into the center divider, the CHP said. It came to rest in the wrong direction with its lights off, setting off a chain-reaction collision.
"We're not sure exactly what happened in the first collision, but it appears there were two or three vehicles involved," Reyes said.
An investigation is ongoing. Funeral arrangements are pending.