The memory will stay with him forever.
Timothy Gibert was a rookie officer still in training with the Fullerton PD in 2010 when he responded to a serious traffic accident.
A man who had been drinking had lost control of his car and crashed, injuring his girlfriend in the passenger seat.
On the way to UCI Medical Center in Orange, Gibert phoned the 21-year-old woman’s parents to tell them what had happened. At the time, Gibert believed the young woman likely would survive.
But Gibert watched her die at the hospital.
“That call will stick with me for a long time – probably forever,” Gibert, 27, said Tuesday night.
Gibert related the story after he and seven other Fullerton Police officers were recognized by the Fullerton City Council for the number of DUI arrests they made in 2014.
That recognition followed a March 25 luncheon in which officers throughout Orange County were honored by the California Office of Traffic Safety and Mothers Against Drunk Driving for 2014 DUI arrests.
Gibert made 117 arrests last year — the fourth highest of any other law enforcement officer in Orange County.
He joined Fullerton PD Corp. Ryan Warner, 39, a motor officer and 17-year FPD veteran, who made 142 DUI arrests — good for second place overall — as one of 11 “Century Award Winners” for 2014, or those who made more than 100 arrests.
Orange County’s top DUI arresting officer last year was officer Cornelius Ungureanu of the Orange PD, with an astonishing 268 arrests.
To put the numbers is context, a typical patrol officer for any law enforcement agency makes an average of 20 to 25 DUI arrests a year on top of their other duties.
Gibert logged 117 despite taking six weeks off to spend time with his newborn.
And Gibert, like Warner, exceeded triple figures while juggling other duties.
Both were tasked last year with trying to make 100 or more DUI arrests in an effort spearheaded by former Fullerton Police Capt. George Crum, said Lt. Andrew Goodrich (Crum now is police chief of Cathedral City).
Gibert and Warner are the fourth and fifth Fullerton PD officers ever to win a Century Award and the first since 2007, when two other FPD cops surpassed the 100 mark.
Goodrich was the first to hit that milestone, with 105 DUI arrests in 1996.
“They are the heroes of our streets,” said Joan Brewer, a recipient of a 2014 “Heart of MADD” award for her volunteer efforts with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Brewer helped recognize five of the eight Fullerton PD honorees who were able to attend Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting.
Brewer’s son, Randy, was killed in a solo motorcycle accident in 2006 in Florida. The 22-year-old, a member of the U.S. Army National Guard, had been drinking. His mother, who lives in Yorba Linda, has been a dedicated MADD volunteer ever since.
“Every arrest could instead have ended up being a fatality,” said Brewer, who has wrapped her 2007 Saturn Vue SUV in an anti-drinking and driving message that includes her son’s photo.
The eight Fullerton PD officers recognized Tuesday accounted for 452 DUI arrests in 2014 — 58 percent of the agency’s total of 773 arrests last year, Lt. Mike Chlebowski said at the City Council meeting before calling up each officer to receive a certificate.
In addition to Gibert and Warner, the following six FPD cops were honored:
Officer Cary Tong — 38 arrests
Officer Miguel “Sonny” Siliceo — 37 arrests
Officer Jesus Salazar — 32 arrests
Officer Jonathan Munoz — 29 arrests
Corp. Daniel Heying — 29 arrests
Corp. Eric Bridges — 28 arrests
“It’s nice to be recognized, because a lot of families have lost loved ones to drunk drivers, and it’s great to be able to take these drivers off the street,” Warner said.