- In a memorial marked by a five-helicopter flyover and
a moving eulogy from his widow, hundreds of law enforcement
officers said goodbye Wednesday to a well-liked Solano County
volunteer deputy killed in a high-speed pursuit.
John P. Sandlin, 66, died late April 23 after the
patrol car he was driving flipped in a harrowing S-curve while he
and his partner, Deputy Jason Roper, were trying to catch up with
a motorist who had sped from them while they were on another call.
"I think it's more important to celebrate the
life we had," said Solano Deputy Daryl Snedeker, a field
training officer, before the service at the Solano County
Fairgrounds horse track.
Sandlin's widow, Kay Talbot, and family members
arrived in three white limousines at 9:04 a.m., bathed in bright
sunshine and cool breezes under high cirrus clouds.
The helicopters flew in a V-formation over the
gathering, and one shot upward and away as they reached the stage,
a symbolic departure.
Chaplain Deputy W.B. Barnes read the 23rd Psalm,
and state Attorney General Bill Lockyer paid tribute to Sandlin's "full, wonderful life."
Sandlin was a retired Navy lieutenant commander, a
retiree from a second career in engineering and a handyman and
mentor for the entire Sheriff's Office. He is survived by his
wife, three daughters and seven grandchildren
"John was a remarkable person," who left
his mark on the department by setting a good example and mentoring
younger deputies, said county Supervisor John Silva. Sandlin often
drove patrol vehicles to allow deputies to exit quickly when they
arrived at incident scenes.
"I can tell you with absolute certainty that
I'm a better person" for working with Sandlin for 21 years,
said Sheriff Gary Stanton, who ordered retirement of Sandlin's
radio call sign 1-R3 and his badge number R3. A red "R3" on a yellow background adorned a floral badge on the stage.
In a tender eulogy, Talbot, Sandlin's wife of 19
years and "my best friend for 24 years," read a classic
flier's poem, honoring Sandlin's love of airplanes.
Written by John Gillespie Magee Jr., a Royal
Canadian Air Force Pilot Officer in World War II, it was
immortalized for a new generation when President Reagan quoted it
in a tribute to the Challenger astronauts in 1986.
The poem begins, "Oh! I have slipped the
surly bonds of earth," and ends with the narrator saying he
put out his hand "and touched the face of God."
Reach Scott Marshall at 925-945-4745 or email@example.com.
Solano County Volunteer Deputy John Sandlin and
his partner, Deputy Jason Roper, passed two vehicles while
pursuing another late on April 23 before they crashed on Cordelia
Road near the Anheuser-Busch facility. Investigators would like to
talk to the motorists in those two cars. Anyone with information
is asked to call 707-421-7090 or Detective Ray Lamb 707-421-7060.