By Hana Ruiz, Clarion Staff
On the morning of January 18, 2019, the memorial service for Officer Natalie Corona, 22, who died in the line of duty a week before, took place in the UC Davis ARC Pavilion. Upon the arrival of her family, alongside with Officer Corona’s casket, thousands of police officers from across the nation lined up, single-line on La Rue Road, outside the pavilion. Each officers saluted the arrival of the deceased and her family to pay their respects and undying support.
From families to friends, to officers and the public, around 8,000 people attended the service. Bagpipe players performed inside the Pavilion and the honor guard placed the American flag covered casket in front and center of the Pavilion. Country singer Billy Ray Cyrus performed a tribute to the fallen officer and called her an angel. Officer Lilia Vasquez, the police officer of the Criminal Justice Academy at John F. Kennedy High School, attended the memorial service with a dozen magnet cadets from the Class of 2019. “It was a beautiful memorial for someone that was just starting their career,” Vasquez says.
A week before the service, Vasquez announced to the magnet cadets if they would like to attend the memorial service. Twelve Kennedy magnet cadets agreed to join Vasquez and the law enforcement community to pay their respects to Officer Corona. It was their first time to attend a police officer memorial and it was an emotional experience. Greg Moua (c/o of 2019) felt the need to attend because, “I had to show my respects to Officer Corona. I plan to work in the law enforcement in the future and it saddens me to know that she died at a young age. Officers make sacrifices in order to protect the community and they should respected.”
Speakers described Corona as radiant, mature, respectful, kind, and well focused. Davis Police Department Sergeant Eric Labbe, Corona’s supervisor, expressed that, “Natalie’s personality and her kind and loving demeanor was highly infectious.” Davis Police Department Chief Darren Pytel stated that “Natalie was well loved at Davis PD and here in the community. She bravely reported to duty. She did everything that was expected and much more.”
After the service, Corona was to be taken to Arbuckle, her hometown, for her burial. All the police officers hurried out the Pavilion to line-up side on the road and silently saluted as Corona and her family headed to Arbuckle.
Officer Corona was shot by 48-year-old Kevin Douglas Limbaugh, a resident with a criminal background, while she investigated a car collision near downtown Davis. Limbaugh approached Corona, shot her, and fled from the scene. Local police later found Limbaugh dead, after having committed suicide in his house.
Corona made a huge impact to the Davis community and the all of the law enforcement community. She gave what Officer Vasquez calls “the ultimate sacrifice for the career that she loved as a fellow Latina police officer. She will always be remembered.”