Next time you pass along Highway 1 and see the new sign naming the section of the freeway between Branciforte Drive and Park Avenue, think of Albert Donald Hoover, the first local CHP officer to lose his life in the line of duty.
Hoover was honored Wednesday morning by top officers in the Highway Patrol and local agencies at a ceremony at CHP headquarters on Soquel Drive, off the Freedom exit. His family was given a flag and images of the sign. His son died earlier of cancer, but not before getting a copy of the sign that he had asked to be buried with, according to former local commander Matt Olson, who gave a moving speech.
Hoover died Aug. 31, 1934 on what is now Soquel Drive near Mission Drive. Back then it was called "Slaughterhouse Curve" on the Santa Cruz-Watsonville Highway. His motorcycle collided with a truck.
Hoover, a distant relative of President Herbert Hoover, also served on the Santa Cruz Police Department and the Santa Cruz Sheriff's Office.
Since its inception in 1929, the CHP has lost 222 officers in the line of duty, three in Santa Cruz. According to a speech by Area Commander Paul Vincent, "Officer Hoover’s
death came as a shock to the people of Santa Cruz and the resulting out pouring
of love from the community was enormous. Local newspapers reported Hoover would
be warmly remembered for his courteous, caring and loving treatment of
motorists. He was lauded for handling tense situations with skill and tact and
was called 'One of the most popular of the motor patrol.'"
Part of the memorial included a singing of the Star Spangled Banner by two CHP patrolmen. See separate story.