(TEMECULA, Calif.) -- A 12-mile stretch of Interstate 215 in southwest Riverside County has been named in honor of Riverside County sheriff's Deputy Eric Andrew Thach, who was killed in the line of duty 13 months ago. The portion of the interstate from Murrieta Hot Springs Road to McCall Boulevard was dedicated Friday.
A state Senate resolution sponsored by Sen. Ray Haynes, R-Riverside, made the naming and dedication possible, said Caltrans spokeswoman Jeanne Garcia.
The resolution, passed in August, commends Thach, who lived in Sun City, as a law officer "who made the ultimate sacrifice in his service to the people of the State of California."
"It's a nice honor," said Sheriff Larry Smith. "There are a lot of people who drive that highway and they are going to see that sign for a long time. It's something to remember Eric for his dedication to the community."
Thach, 34, was killed Oct. 8, 1999, when he was ambushed and shot in the back while answering a reported home-invasion robbery south of Pedley.
Other officers later tracked his 17-year-old assailant to the Santa Ana riverbed and killed the assailant when he pointed a rifle at them.
After his death, Thach received recognition in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento, where his name was inscribed on memorials to police killed in the line of duty.
"To have something local is wonderful," Evelyn Thach, his widow, said on Wednesday. "It recognizes the sacrifice he made. It's awesome that people still think of Eric."
Evelyn Thach said she still receives the occasional piece of mail from strangers touched by her husband's work, and death on the job. Just recently, she said, she received a letter from a mother who told her that Eric's death inspired a family talk about the need for service and integrity.
"The care and concern overwhelm me," she said. "They create an overwhelming sense of pride."
(iSyndicate; The Press-Enterprise; Nov. 09, 2000). Terms and Conditions: Copyright(c) 2000 LEXIS-NEXIS, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved.