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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Colleagues say goodbye to correctional officer who died in on-duty crash

Press-EnterpriseHundreds gathered at a Riverside church to say goodbye to a state correctional
officer who was killed in an on-duty car wreck.

Sgt. Gilbert Cortez, 47, died on March 25 with his police dog, Mattie, on the way to conduct a contraband inspection in San Diego County.

“We have a great hole in our department today,” said Cynthia Tampkins, warden of the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco where Cortez worked.

Referring to the hundreds of correctional officers who filled The Grove Community Church in Riverside for the funeral on Tuesday, April 9, Tampkins said, “This is his extended family.”

Cortez lost control of his car as he drove on Highway 79 near Warner Springs leading a team of three other K-9 officers who were driving separately.

Cortez’s car veered onto the right shoulder, and then Cortez over-corrected, drove off the other side of the road, flipped the car and crashed into a stone embankment.

As the funeral began, bagpipers led the coffin through the halls of the church as uniformed officers — including four with dogs sitting obediently at their feet — stood in rows saluting silently.

Cortez was an upbeat, positive man, many of his friends said during the funeral. continue reading...

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