Kimberly Pinto, a Stockton Unified School District police officer was killed on her way home in a Lodi car accident early Thursday morning.
California Highway Patrol alleges that Pinto was heading from the Sacramento area prior to the wreck. She was heading southbound on Highway 99 near Kettleman Road in Lodi when she crashed. It happened at about 5:45 a.m. with another vehicle.
A preliminary investigation has led CHP to believe that Pinto’s Honda Accord struck another car, spun off the highway then slammed against a eucalyptus tree.
Michael Quackenbush, the driver the Dodge Avenger that struck Pinto’s Accord also veered off the highway but was uninjured according to Sgt. Steve True.
“She hit me from behind and we started spinning out,” Quackenbush told CBS13.
According to CBS Local Sacramento, Pinto became the department’s first female sergeant in July of 2008 when she joined the department. Prior to joining, she worked for the University of Pacific as a field training officer. Before being promoted she was the school resource officer at Chavez High School.
“Kimberly Pinto stood tall in our department,” said SUSD Police Chief Jim West in a prepared statement. “A natural and talented leader, Kim had all the attributes to be chief one day. Kim brought humor, drive, and competence to everything she undertook. She will be deeply missed both personally and professionally by all her knew her.”
Chavez High School has a set of grief counselors on hand to guide students. Pinto was loved on campus by the studentry and faculty.
News about the wreck was broken near the end of the final exam period at the school.
Principal William Nelson said that Pinto went above and beyond what the job required. “It wasn’t just about enforcing the law,” he said. “She built relationships with kids. She built relationships with staff.”
“Kids go up to her, give her hugs, joke around with her, shake her hand, ‘hey Pinto,” he added. “She had that type of relationship with our community.”
“She always told me to stay out of trouble,” a student told the publication. “She was nice. A lot of kids were hurt by it, started crying.”
“It is tough, for me and for a lot of the kids and their families,” Nelson said.
A moment of silence will take place today to honor Pinto.
Authorities are still investigating the accident.
If you have been injured in a crash, or have lost a loved one in an accident, call a Stockton car crash lawyer today.