'He lived a life dedicated to service'

Mourners recount funny and heartfelt stories about Jon Coutchie, Laguna motorcycle officer killed in an on-duty accident.

September 27, 2013|By Bryce Alderton
  • Pallbearers prepare to move Laguna Beach motorcycle Officer Jon Coutchie's casket into Mariners Church in Irvine on Friday.
Pallbearers prepare to move Laguna Beach motorcycle… (KEVIN CHANG, Coastline…)

Hundreds turned out Friday to remember Laguna Beach officer Jon Coutchie, a man who, many recalled, always finished what he started, didn't make a big fuss about things and was serious yet had a witty side.

The stories recounted by friends, family and colleagues elicited laughs through tears during the memorial held for the 41-year-old motorcycle officer at Mariners Church in Irvine.

Coutchie died while on-duty late Saturday. He was riding his department motorcycle near South Coast Highway and Cleo Street when he hit the side of a pickup turning left.

His death marked the first on-duty death in 60 years for the department, Laguna police said.

His boots and helmet — the same ones Coutchie was wearing the night he died — sat on a pedestal on the church's main stage.

Officials from all over paid their respects, including Visalia, Torrance, Westminster and Irvine police departments, as well as Laguna Beach firefighters, marine safety personnel and Mayor Kelly Boyd.


State Attorney General Kamala Harris spoke during the eulogy.

"I had a wonderful conversation with his family," Harris told mourners, "and it became so clear he lived a life dedicated to service. The state and nation owe him and you [law enforcement officers] a debt of gratitude. Officer Jon Coutchie made the ultimate sacrifice for Laguna Beach, but not before making the world a better place."

Coutchie is survived by his mother, Luciana Coutchie; father, Robert Coutchie; brother, Rob Coutchie; stepmother, Mikki Coutchie; stepsister, Katrina Green; and girlfriend, Tara Young.

Born in Tucson, Ariz., Coutchie was raised in Orange County and graduated from Laguna Hills High School in 1989.

A slideshow revealed glimpses of Coutchie's life.

"He was a like a brother," high school friend Karen Caputo said. "He teased and yelled at me, but that was a way of showing he cared. He was stubborn and honest. I trusted him with my life. He loved all of you [Laguna Beach police], and I know he would be honored for all the respect he's been shown."

Morgan Christen, who met Coutchie on the Laguna Hills High School wrestling team, remembered a more youthful moment.

"I was part of his first arrest, the wrong part of the law," Christen told the audience, eliciting laughs. "We were minors in possession of alcohol, a bottle of schnapps. Looking back, I thank the officer. Poor Lucy [Coutchie's mother]."

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