SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Grieving family members and law enforcement colleagues gathered Tuesday to bid their final farewells to a married couple who rose through the ranks of the San Diego Police Department to the post of detective together before losing their lives to a head-on freeway crash near the U.S.-Mexico border.
The late-morning memorial at a 4S Ranch church honored the lives of Escondido residents Ryan Park, 32, and Jamie Huntley-Park, 33, who were killed when a car heading north on the southbound side of Interstate 5 in San Ysidro crashed into their city-owned vehicle shortly before 10:30 a.m. on June 4.
“Ever since June 4 … the outpouring of support has just been tremendous,” SDPD Chief David Nisleit said at the memorial. “To Jamie and Ryan, you will be sorely missed but never forgotten. Rest in peace my friends, we’ll take it from here.”
The fiery collision also killed the errant driver, 58-year-old Sandra Daniels of Ramona. It was unclear how and why Daniels wound up on the wrong side of the freeway near Dairy Mart Road, traveling against traffic at speeds as fast as 90 mph, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Park and Huntley-Park had been married since 2016, having met while attending police academy four years earlier, according to Nisleit. They earned the rank of detective together in July 2018.
Sgt. Geoff Decesari, who worked in the homicide unit with Park, told FOX 5 the memorial was one of the most emotional he had ever attended.
“Our team is united in our faith that God placed Jamie and Ryan in the path of that vehicle to protect the people behind them,” Decesari said at the memorial.
“Ryan knew when to be serious and when to inject humor,” he continued. “I once told Ryan that I was hip. Ryan replied, ‘you’re closer to a hip replacement than you are hip.'”
Park made it to the homicide unit about 10 years earlier than most do.
Huntley-Park grew up in La Jolla playing hockey, her father’s favorite sport.
“I still find this weird that a SoCal kid in La Jolla plays hockey. But you know what, she was really good,” Nisleit said.
Before she joined the police force, she played Division III hockey on a scholarship at Elmira College, a private college in Elmira, New York.
Nisleit said Huntley-Park was known as an enforcer on the ice and her dad was happy that she set the college’s record for penalty minutes in a season.
After her playing days, Huntley-Park became a hockey referee and coach. She worked numerous events as a referee for USA Hockey, including an Olympic qualifier in Japan in 2017, two women’s world championships and two Four Nations Cup tournaments.
Before joining SDPD, Park — a UCLA graduate who grew up in Los Angeles — conducted archeological field research in Cusco, Peru, Nisleit said.
Park met Nisleit in 2013, when he joined SDPD’s team for the Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay, a 120-mile run held annually stretching from Baker, California to Las Vegas.
From 2013 to 2014, Nisleit was Park’s commanding officer in Western Division and ran with him after work on several occasions.
“Ryan was a very gifted runner, but he was also a goofy runner,” Nisleit said. “(I) don’t mean any harm or foul by that, but if there was a puddle, Ryan would jump in it.”
The couple were not on duty on the day of the deadly accident, but were following up on cases they were working on, the chief said. The vehicle they were in — apparently being driven by Ryan Park — was city-owned but not a marked police car.
See the full memorial service for the detectives here.
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