Hundreds of law enforcement officials stood in solemn formation at Friday’s memorial to salute the life of fallen CHP Officer Brett Oswald.
When at ease, the uniformed men and women wiped tears from their eyes. Oswald, 48, died late Sunday after his CHP vehicle was hit by a car reportedly driven by Kaylee Weisenberg, 22, of Atascadero. Oswald was waiting for a tow truck on an abandoned-vehicle call just south of Paso Robles when he was struck outside his vehicle.
He was a 20-year veteran of the CHP who worked out of the Templeton office. A motorcade displaying dozens of flashing lights arrived off Highway 101 at the Paso Robles Event Center, where about 1,000 attendees filled a building.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state officials were also in attendance.
LeAnn Rimes’ “How Do I Live Without You” was sung, and friends and family recalled memories of the husband, son, brother and friend. A 21-gun salute, fly-over and flag ceremony followed outside.
Oswald’s wife, Marlena, cried softly while officers remained at her side.
Speaker after speaker described Oswald, an Atascadero resident, as a compassionate man who “knew how to draw life out of every moment of every day,” Sgt. Alex Gonzalez, a colleague, said.
While Marlena Oswald didn’t speak during the ceremony, she previously told The Tribune that her husband “was the most amazing man.”
“I am truly blessed to have had him for the short time I did,” she said.
They married July 19, 2003.
Oswald’s cousin, Jeannie Converse, spoke on behalf of the family.
When she began collecting stories of Oswald for her speech, she said, “they all encompassed pride, honor, generosity, respect and, most of all, laughter.”
She retold tales of how Oswald was a respectful man with a playful spirit.
She giggled as she told a story about Oswald teaching one sister how to drive and smiled at a story about when he introduced another sister to her future husband.
She spoke of the Oswalds’ love for travel and the “constant daily life enjoyments” of cooking together or spending an evening on the porch.
She touched on the bond between husband and wife as they overcame Marlena Oswald’s leukemia together, adding, “Brett would have always stayed by Marlena’s side if he had the choice.”
Many called Oswald and his wife soul mates.
Joe Kingman, Oswald’s pilot from when he served in the CHP Coastal Division’s Air Operations, said that they spent 6,000 hours flying together and that Oswald will forever be in the cockpit with him.
Kingman read a letter he wrote to Oswald, recalling the friendship they had and how Oswald’s love for his family inspired him.
One day, Kingman recalled, they were flying over the clouds and Oswald snapped some photos.
“I asked, ‘What are you taking pictures of?’ ” Kingman said . “And you said ‘I’m taking pictures of the sunset. I want to show Marlena.’ ”
Ever since, Kingman said, he, too, has brought a camera in the air.
In addition to his wife, Oswald leaves behind his parents, Linda and Richard Oswald of Atascadero; and his two sisters, Tricia Oswald of Atascadero and Trinda Robbins of Las Vegas.
A procession of bagpipes led the wooden coffin draped in an American flag through the courtyard after the ceremony as the memorial came to a close.
Afterward, state officials asked media to remind drivers that behind every badge is a person with a family, and that drivers should remain safe on the road.
Weisenberg’s arraignment is scheduled for Thursday.