By Geghard ARAKELIAN
The California Highway Patrol will be holding a casino-night fundraiser at the Rosemont Pavilion this Saturday at 7 p.m., in which a portion of the proceeds will go to an officer who died while serving in the line of duty last week.
While attempting to conduct a traffic stop in Redlands, Officer Tom Coleman found himself in pursuit of a vehicle which refused to stop.
The chase led to the officer’s death when his motorcycle collided with a big rig truck. Though the incident did end with the arrest of the suspects involved it also concluded with a blow to the police force: the death of a fellow officer.
The passing of Coleman sparked an immediate call to fellow officers to raise money for his family.
“You only have to know him for a couple of hours and he’ll make an impression on you” said Ming-Yang hsu, who is the Public Information Officer for the CHP and works out of the Altadena station. “He was just a great guy. He always came in with more tickets, more activity, more crashes handled, more driver [roadside] assistance…he really took his job seriously. We’re going to miss that about him.”
The fundraiser on Saturday was originally intended for raising money for the Widows and Orphans fund as well as the general police force. But now funds raised that night will be split three ways: between officers, Widows and Orphans and Coleman’s family.
Coleman graduated from the academy in 2002 and reported to the Altadena office that same year. He served his station for five years until being transferred to the Inlands division.
Having worked with the fallen officer for a year, hsu was impacted by the news of Coleman’s death.
“I was in disbelief, I was in shock. I was almost in denial,” said hsu. “He’s only been away from our office for a couple of years and based from what everyone else was saying the feelings were the same – everyone was in disbelief. Some people still don’t believe it, they’re just in shock.”
The fundraiser in Pasadena will have a $35 entrance fee which will provide attendees with $200 of play money. There will be an open bar as well as an auction by Appreciation Events.
Appreciation Events will forward 20% of its proceeds to the hosting police force.
“Tom was the ultimate officer” said hsu. “Because he was such a big part of us and most of his career was part of us…most of us that remember him are shifting the proceeds.
The Rosemont Pavilion is located at 1001 Rose Bowl Drive in Pasadena.