Joyce Dizon didn’t know Tyler Lenehan, but she stood waiting outside Elk Grove Police Department Friday with the officers who did to say goodbye.
“His story touched me. It was so tragic,” Dizon said, clutching a placard bearing the Elk Grove officer’s name and his badge number — 281. “We lost a great officer and a servant of the city. He’ll be deeply missed. I’m just glad I could be out.”
Elk Grove bid farewell to Lenehan in a procession through the streets of the city he served. Elk Grove Boulevard and streets along the route were lined with blue ribbons lashed to trees, light standards and freeway overcrossings for the man his fellow officers called “Ty.”
Nine motorcycle officers led the motorcade that carried Lenehan through the city and to the tiny community of Rescue and Green Valley Mortuary. Along the long boulevard, hundreds paid respects to a man they likely didn’t know to offer a final measure of thanks.
Lenehan died early Friday as he headed to work, killed after a wrong-way driver collided with his patrol motorcycle on Highway 99 near 47th Avenue in Sacramento. He was a six-year Elk Grove police veteran who realized his dream of becoming a motor officer just last year. Lenehan was 44 and leaves behind a wife and two children.
Judy Cuchna paused outside Elk Grove’s Frank Everson fire station on Elk Grove Boulevard. It was more than an hour before the 10:45 a.m. procession as firefighters unfurled the giant flag that would hang over the boulevard in tribute, suspended by the station’s two ladder trucks. Cuchna lives nearby, she said, the homes on her cul-de-sac draped in blue, in Lenehan’s honor.
“I’m very honored to be here today, to be a part of it. We’ve draped our street in blue. Everyone has their flags out,” she said.
Dave Ortiz was headed to his plumbing business but stopped his work truck to watch the giant flag hoisted above Elk Grove Boulevard. He said the image and the outpouring of support stopped him cold.
“I love this city. I couldn’t help but to stop,” Ortiz said. “It’s a heartwarming feeling.”
Outside Elk Grove Police Department, Jaclyn and Dominic Malfatto sat with their dog Willow. Just last summer, a motor officer stopped them a few miles from where they were sitting. It was a hot day, Willow needed water, and they were speeding down Whitelock Boulevard. The officer left them go with a few words of advice to slow down, understanding that they were trying to get Willow home. Dominic Malfatto said he would like to think that officer was Officer Lenehan.
“He showed us a little mercy that day, and where mercy is shown, mercy is given,” Malfatto said.
On Friday, Malfatto was headed to work on Highway 99 when he saw the wreck that claimed Lenehan’s life.
“I saw the whole thing and when I found out later in the day that it was one of our own officers, I felt my heart sink,” Malfatto said. “He was just on his way to work when this senseless tragedy happened. He was just on his way to work to help other people....They just help other people in need and put their lives in jeopardy. That’s why we’re here today.”