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Laguna Police Officer Dies in Collision

Jon CoutchieA 42-year-old Laguna Beach police officer and Iraq war veteran was tragically killed in a traffic collision late Saturday, Sept. 21, the department’s second death of an officer in the line of duty in 60 years.

Jon Coutchie, a four-year officer with the department who was assigned to motor patrol earlier this year, died after being struck by a pickup turning left onto Coast Highway at Cleo Street shortly before midnight, police Capt. Jason Kravetz said.

Coutchie had been northbound on Coast Highway in search of a car reported speeding through the downtown area that had eluded another officer, said Kravetz, who added that the motorcycle officer was not engaged in a high speed pursuit. The driver of a pickup turned left at Cleo Street and collided with the officer, Kravetz said.

The motorist, who was not arrested, is cooperating with the California Highway Patrol, which is investigating the incident. The investigator could not be reached immediately for comment.

“The department’s devastated,” Kravetz said. “Nobody’s ever gone through this.” The previous on-duty death in the department of 47 sworn officers was the shooting of Gordon French in 1953, whose fatal injury instigated the building of a local hospital.

Couchie, a native of Tucson, Ariz., grew up in Orange County where he graduated from Laguna Hills High School in 1989. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he enlisted for military service and became an Army Ranger, and completed tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003-2007.

After receiving an honorable discharge, Coutchie applied to the department for a job as a part-time jailer. Seeing his potential, the department sponsored his training at Huntington Beach’s  Golden West Police Academy in 2008. He completed training the following year and was sworn in as a Laguna officer, said a department statement.

Coutchie showed a passion for traffic issues and displayed an early expertise in accident investigation.  Following this interest, he applied and was selected for one of the coveted motor officer positions in March.

After the arriving officers saw that Coutchie had succumbed to his injuries, one of them ran into a local Ralph’s Market and grabbed an American flag and draped his body, as an honor to his sacrifice as an Army Ranger and police officer, the statement said.

“We will forever miss and love Jon here at the Police Department and will grieve along with the citizens of this community,” Kravetz’ statement said.

Coutchie is survived by his parents, a brother, step-sister and loving girlfriend.

Memorials have already sprung up at the Cleo intersection and in the department’s lobby.

 

 

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Comments (4)

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  1. Ken Koestler says:

    One of the nicest officers I have ever known. The city has lost a hero.

  2. janette mestre says:

    We had a bad traffic accident Friday night, and Officer Coutchie was the responder. He was the nicest man, so caring and patient, made a traumatic event easier to get through. I was impressed with how he was giving advice to the younger guys documenting the damage in a very professional but almost big brotherly way. Just breaks my heart to hear this happened. Our thoughts and heartfelt sympathy go out to his family and those he worked with everyday in the department.

  3. Mr. Magoo says:

    RIP Office Couchie of Laguna Beach, CA…

    God bless you, your fellow officers, and all your families…

    It’s most likely politically incorrect to mention that the illegal work force is totally unaware that the “Carpool” lane is also the FAST LANE and that there is both an understanding and an obligation to drive no less than 10 MPH above the posted hwy speed limit if there is nothing impeding your progress beyond the fact that your car windows are all rolled down because your 1989 Chevy Minivan has no air conditioning.

    Another more likely reason why the immigrants drive only 60 MPH on the freeway in the FAST LANE is because they are afraid of being arrested and deported…for being in the country illegally…without them realizing that the immigrant worker cost the tax payers more money to deport. So, there is no point to writing them a ticket because they have limited funds which makes them eligible to perform community service picking up trash on the highway…to pay off their tickets which generates no capital…and cost tax payers more money. Therefore, the immigrants are allowed to clog up our highways because this serves the purpose of creating a speed trap on our highways without realizing that the highways are also creating a death trap for our motorcycle officers.

    Immigrants and/or first generation drivers are clueless that they are creating an impassable wall of 20th century minivans, gardening trucks, and sightseers. Therefore, it’s completely necessary to move the out-dated cars and drivers into the slow lane and/or start writing people tickets for clogging up the carpool lane…especially, if they decide to drive on our highways at a snail’s pace with their windows down and their armpits out of the window as if they are still on a dirt road because they have no air conditioning…fine them…or better yet…
    just move them out of the way…and into the slow lane.

    NO, it’s not entirely the immigrants or the tourists fault that they have not caught on, yet….because our highways have three different names for the fast lane…Originally, everyone grew up with the notion of the “fast lane”….Now, it’s either called a “car pool lane” or the “Fast Trac”…So, this creates unclear directives that are lost in translation throughout each zip code or city which creates the unsafe driving conditions by perpetuating two different names for the same lane.

    Is it a “car pool” lane for immigrant worker’s sub-standard minivans to drive at 60 MPH or is it a “fast trac” for tax payers to drive 80MPH as a means to avoid the ignorant habits of the non-tax payers that can’t afford to roll up their windows on the freeway to reduce the loss of life, property, and revenue?

    Up until the present, the police departments are unaware that their short term goals of writing speeding tickets is costing them far more money in long term because the loss of both property and life far exceed the money earned from traffic citations.

    Currently, immigrant workers are creating a danger on our highways because the highways are being allowed to facilitate a quagmire that endangers all travelers and especially motorcycle police officers.

    Unrealized, yet, is the fact that these type of situations only serve the short term goal of generating capital without realizing that the long term loss of property and life far exceed the revenue generated from speeding tickets.

    I’m guessing that the cost of doing business has far exceeded the revenue generated to replace the lost property and loss of life but no one has a calculator or any modern software to figure the cost of profits that are transferred over to the tax payers and/or the officers that are currently being expected to die before retirement…as a means to reduce pension recipients…?

    As both a former wild-land fire fighter and mammoth mountain ski patrol, I understand the importance of fire prevention and hope that the police departments utilize safer practices that move people more safely through our highways with more consistency…and coherency to the functioning laws…because understanding cause and effect relationship is key when protecting life and property.

    RIP Office Couchie of Laguna Beach, CA…God bless you, your fellow officers, and all your families…

  4. […] Officer Jon Coutchie, 42, was killed in an accidental, on-duty collision with a truck around midnight on Saturday, Sept. 21.  The incident instigated a drive for a […]

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