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Officers honor one of their own

Procession allows men and women in uniform to say goodbye to colleague Jon Coutchie, killed while on motorcycle duty.

September 26, 2013|By Bryce Alderton
  • Family members of Laguna Beach officer Jon Coutchie arrive to McCormick & Son mortuary before a motorcade procession on Tuesday.
Family members of Laguna Beach officer Jon Coutchie arrive… (Don Leach, Coastline…)

About 100 officers lined Laguna Canyon Road on Tuesday to honor a Laguna Beach police officer who died in a motorcycle accident over the weekend, the first on-duty death in 60 years.

Officers in uniform, both sworn and civilian, lined the entrance to McCormick & Son Mortuary, where a motorcade carried the body of Jon Coutchie, a 41-year-old Laguna Beach motorcycle officer killed Saturday night.

Laguna police Capt. Darin Lenyi directed the officers, including California Highway Patrol personnel, who stood at attention for Coutchie's family and then for Jon.

A bagpiper played "Amazing Grace" as about 10 motorcycle officers drove onto the mortuary property, circled the courtyard and waited for Coutchie's casket to arrive.

The procession began at the Orange County coroner's office in Santa Ana and traveled south along the 5 Freeway and onto Laguna Canyon Road, a police news release said.

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Eight Laguna Beach firefighters stood atop a fire engine parked across Laguna Canyon Road from the mortuary for the procession.

Downtown flags were lowered to half-staff.

The outpouring of support spread throughout the law enforcement community, Laguna Beach Capt. Jason Kravetz said in an email announcing the motorcade.

"We had planned on doing this ourselves, but word spread to other law enforcement officers, who will now be showing up to participate," Kravetz said earlier Tuesday. "It has truly been an emotional experience."

Officers carried the casket, draped in an American flag, from the hearse into the mortuary followed by Coutchie's family.

The motorcade is a way to honor an officer killed in the line of duty, Lenyi said.

"This is our way to welcome Jon home," Kravetz said during the procession.

Coutchie was riding his motorcycle north on South Coast Highway at 11:44 p.m. when he hit the side of a pickup trying to make a left turn onto Cleo Street, according to the CHP, which is investigating the collision.

Coutchie, who had been a Laguna officer for four years, died at the scene. The last on-duty officer death occurred in 1953, police said.

Colleagues spoke about Coutchie's generosity and fun-loving nature.

"He was someone you would want as a head coach if you're playing on a team together," said Larry Wohrman, a fleet coordinator who maintains the department's motorcycles. "He was a positive, upbeat guy who never had a negative thing to say about anyone.

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