Sacto 9-1-1
December 23, 2008
CHP officer from Galt remembered

From Kim Minugh:

California Highway Patrolman Joseph Paul Sanders was laid to rest Monday, one day after the 29-year-old Galt High graduate would have successfully completed his first year in his dream job.

He had served just 359 days as a CHP officer - his long-time goal - before he was struck and killed a week prior while diverting traffic on a wet Los Angeles County highway.

Hundreds of family, friends and uniformed officers honored the Sacramento-born Sanders, who worked from the CHP's Santa Fe Springs office in southern California.

Law enforcement officers from across the state - including a large contingent from the south state - and even from the Texas Highway Patrol filled the First Baptist Church in Elk Grove to memorialize the young officer.

CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow described Sanders as a man of "tremendous courage and strength, yet a man of compassion and warmth."

"He was indeed an honorable man, a true American hero," Farrows said.

Sanders grew up the oldest of three children. Before graduating in 1997, he lettered in four varsity sports at Galt High. He died an avid fan of the Oakland A's and Raiders teams, according to friends.

Sanders enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and served seven months in Fallujah, Iraq, before being honorably discharged in July 2006.

When he entered the CHP Academy a year later, family and friends say he fulfilled a lifelong dream. Capt. Dan Minor, who oversees the Santa Fe Springs office, said that within minutes of telling Sanders' widow, Tondria, that her husband had been killed, she said she took comfort knowing he died doing what he loved to do.

Sanders is survived by Tondria, who is pregnant; the couple's four young children; his parents and his two sisters.

After mourners cleared the First Baptist Church, an unknown man sat comforting one of Sanders' sons in the church's front pew. The boy wore a CHP uniform shirt and a yellow mourning ribbon.

To see a photo gallery of Bee photos taken at the services, click here.

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