Chief Thomas Kang of the Gardena Police Department in California sadly reports the death of Motor Officer Toshio Hirai.

Officer Hirai, 34, was riding his police motor unit early in the morning hours through Harbor City, heading to the police station to start his patrol shift. A vehicle struck Hirai as he was passing through an intersection. As a result, he sustained critical injuries in the crash.

Hirai was transported to the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles where he remained in the intensive care unit until he succumbed to his injuries the following day.

Toshio Hirai

Motor Officer Toshio Hirai. (Gardena Police Department)

The Los Angeles Police Department and their Crash Reconstruction Team are investigating the collision.

Officer Hirai served the Gardena Police Department for 12 years. He was a member of the SWAT team and a traffic crash investigation specialist in addition to being a motor officer.

Hirai had an abundance of knowledge, department spokesman Tom Kang said, and was one of the smartest people he ever met.

“He would go out of his way to help anyone and he was a mentor to a lot of our officers,” Kang said. “We’re truly going to miss him.”

Police officials released a statement on its Facebook page thanking the hospital staff for its work.

“A number of outstanding doctors, nurses and other hospital staff members did all they could to try to save Toshio,” the statement said. “While doctors did their best to try and save him, he died at the hospital late this afternoon.”

Hirai grew up in the community he kept watch over and attended the Gardena Buddhist Temple. Police officials said he spoke five languages, had a passion for life and had the best sense of humor.

Kang met Hirai very young and recalled Hirai asking him what it would take to be hired. The two sat down a month ago to talk about what Hirai would like to do over the next 10 years, Kang said.

“He said he wanted to keep mentoring and training others in the department,” Kang said. “He wanted to bring SWAT to a greater level and toward the end of his career, he told me he would like to promote and be a part of leadership. He had a lot of great leadership qualities.

“He would have been successful,” Kang added. “I did see that potential in him just by his mere action, his passion for police work and people and his love for the community.”

Pierce County deputy

His wife and two-year-old son survive him.

Officer Toshio Hirai is gone, but will never be forgotten.

EOW: Thursday, November 15, 2018.

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