Mid-morning Thursday, March 2, Ron Hatch took his parents, Paul, 88, and Dorothy, 86, for a ride.
Their destination was the 91 Freeway.
To visit a sign.
This was no ordinary freeway sign, but one of two recently installed by Caltrans on the 91 that pay homage to Paul and Dorothy’s son, Jerry Hatch, the Fullerton PD officer who lost his life on June 30, 1975, when he was struck by a drunk driver.
Officer Hatch was on his way to work when he pulled over to help a disabled motorist and he was struck and killed.
He was 23, and only two months out of the police academy.
Last July, then FPD Chief Dan Hughes and other FPD personnel invited the Hatch family to PD headquarters to pay homage to the fallen officer.
Early this week, FPD Capt. John Siko was told the “FULLERTON POLICE OFFICER JERRY HATCH MEMORIAL FREEWAY” signs finally were up.
Siko went out Monday, Feb. 27, to confirm and snapped some pictures.
FPD Interim Chief Dave Hinig then shared the news with all agency personnel.
One of the Jerry Hatch signs is on the eastbound 91 just east of Magnolia Avenue.
The other is on the westbound 91 west of the 57 Freeway near State College Boulevard.
In addition to the signs, the FPD honors Jerry Hatch — the first FPD officer killed in the line of duty — with a bronze plaque with Hatch’s image that hangs on a wall in the department’s reception area.
Next to that plaque is a plaque honoring Tommy De La Rosa, the second FPD officer to be killed in the line of duty.
In addition, a patrol car has the name “Officer Jerry Hatch” inscribed on the rear fender on the passenger side, and a banner honoring Hatch hangs on the south side of Commonwealth Avenue.
Hatch’s name also is among the 53 fallen officers listed on the Orange County Peace Officers’ Memorial at the O.C. Sheriff’s Regional Training Academy in Tustin.
Jerry Hatch was the oldest of one of seven children born to Paul and Dorothy Hatch.
Ron Hatch wanted to take his parents to see the signs this week because both are becoming frail, and he wanted to make sure they saw the signs.
“It meant a lot to see them,” Ron Hatch said. “The signs are a great way to honor his memory.”
Paul and Dorothy Hatch have 40 grandchildren and 61 great-grandchildren.
Their son Jerry always will remain in their hearts.
“His life meant something,” brother Ron said. “I think (the signs) are a sweet, sweet thing.”
To read more about Officer Hatch and his family, click here.
To read about memorial signs for fallen FPD Officer Tommy De La Rosa, click here.