SANTA ANA, Calif. – An off-duty Orange County sheriff’s deputy was killed in a single-vehicle crash Thursday in Lake Elsinore.
The fatal crash occurred about 5:15 a.m. in the 25000 block of Railroad Canyon Road, near Canyon Hills Road, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.
Fire officials said paramedics reached the location a short time later and pronounced the victim dead at the scene. Video from the location showed a vehicle that appeared to have struck a tree in the roadway median. It was unclear what caused the crash.
Orange County officials identified the deputy as Brian Haney, who worked in the San Juan Capistrano area and was on his way home when the crash occurred. Officials said he had a wife, Leslee, and a month-old son, Cole. Haney’s age was not immediately available.
“I’m grateful for his service, and my heart goes out to Deputy Haney’s loved ones,” Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley posted on social media. “His young family will need our strong community support through the grief.”
Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said Haney was hired by the department on Aug. 19, 2016, working stints at the Theo Lacey Jail and then in San Juan Capistrano, where he was a member of the Critical Incident Response Team.
“His brothers and sisters in our department described him as a quick learner, hard worker, and team player,” Barnes said. “He was known for his infectious smile, humorous and timely wit, and love for his peers.”
Haney was also a member of the Air Force Reserve, Barnes said
“Our focus will be on Brian’s loved ones who lost a husband, a father, a brother, and a son this morning,” the sheriff said. “We are also focused on our department family who are recovering from our loss of a partner.”
San Juan Capistrano Mayor Howard Hart wrote online that he was “shocked and deeply saddened” at Haney’s death.
“I am especially devastated to learn that he leaves behind a loving wife and a newborn baby to whom he was returning home after protecting and serving our community when this terrible accident occurred,” Hart wrote. “I know my San Juan Capistrano neighbors will join me in prayers of comfort and support for Deputy Haney’s family and loved ones.”
Dozens of the fallen lawman’s comrades gathered at the crash scene and saluted as his body — draped in an American flag — was removed from the vehicle and placed into a hearse. Just after 11 a.m., a law enforcement procession began, transporting the deputy’s body to the Riverside County coroner’s facility in Perris.