DIAMOND BAR, Calif. - Funeral services were held Friday for Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department motorcycle Deputy Thomas Albanese, who was killed in a collision in a Lakewood intersection while attempting to make a traffic stop.
Thomas Albanese, 41, a seven-year veteran of the department and married father of two, was attempting to pull over a black sedan just before 9 a.m. Feb. 25 when he entered the intersection of Paramount and Del Amo boulevards, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said.
A colleague of Albanese remembered the deputy as a man of few words. But when Albanese spoke, his former colleague said, "We listened because we knew it would be honest, genuine and from the heart."
Deputy Thomas Albanese
Hundreds paid respect for the 41-year-old deputy, who was also a Marine.
"You will always be part of our family," said an emotional LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
Villanueva chocked back tears as he tried to read a note that Albanese had written in his early days with the department. The sheriff has been to too many funerals, Villanueva explains, as the department has lost more than a dozen deputies in less than a year due to crashes, COVID-19 and other health issues.
A GoFundMe page has been launched to help the grieving family.
Albanese was northbound on Paramount Boulevard when a silver Mercedes-Benz, which was westbound on Del Amo Boulevard, struck him in the intersection. The force of the crash was "extreme," and Albanese was thrown from his bike and died at the scene, the sheriff said.
Multiple dignitaries are expected to attend the funeral, including Villanueva, county Supervisors Hilda Solis and Holly Mitchell and sheriff's Capt. Phillip Marquez and Lt. Jodi Hutak of the Pico Rivera Sheriff's Station, where Albanese was assigned.
A U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served four tours of duty in Iraq, Albanese joined the sheriff's department in July 2013 and became a deputy two years later, Villanueva said. He held assignments at the Men's Central Jail, Transit Services Bureau and at the Lakewood station as a field training officer.
"Ultimately, his dream was to become a ... motor deputy," Villanueva said.
Albanese was assigned to the Pico Rivera Station after passing motor school in March.
Following his death, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that flags at the State Capitol would be flown at half-staff in honor of Albanese.
"Jennifer and I extend our deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Deputy Albanese, who was tragically killed while on duty," Newsom said. "Our brave first responders place their lives in danger every day to protect their communities. We are forever grateful for his service to the people of Los Angeles."
City News Service contributed to this report.