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Davis, California

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Memorial for slain police officer Natalie Corona held at UC Davis

Thousands gathered to honor Corona’s life, memory

Thousands gathered in the ARC Pavilion to honor the life and memory of 22-year-old Davis Police Officer Natalie Corona on January 18. Corona was killed in the line of duty by 48-year-old Kevin Douglas on Jan. 10 while responding to a three-vehicle collision.

UC Davis administrators advised students to find alternative ways of commuting to campus to make parking spaces available for officers and other attendants paying their respects. The university’s website projected a turnout of an estimated 6,000 officers and other individuals at the service.

Certain parking structures were closed and streets were blocked along La Rue Road, Russell Boulevard and Anderson Boulevard during the procession of Officer Corona’s remains following the ceremony, with individuals lined up along the route.

In addition to those at the ceremony in the Pavilion, individuals gathered around outside of the ARC to watch the ceremony on large screens and at home via livestream.

Although Corona was not from Davis, her family requested the memorial service be held here.

“Davis is the community she loved and was so dedicated to serving,” said Emily Galindo, the interim vice chancellor of Student Affairs in an email to students.

The memorial service began with a video montage of Corona’s life, a musical procession placing her coffin at the front of the stage and a song performed by Billy Ray Cyrus, a friend of the family, dedicated to Corona. Testimonies from fellow officers and the Corona family followed.

Corona’s father worked as a police officer and began taking Corona on ride-alongs at a young age. “Being a police officer was in her blood,” said Officer Eric Labbe, who worked alongside Corona.

Labbe’s sentiment was reiterated throughout the ceremony by other speakers. Along with her parents, Corona’s three younger sisters were also present at the service.

According to the Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel, Corona began working with the Davis Police Department in January 2017 as a community service officer while she attended Woodland Community College. That July, she was presented with the opportunity to attend the Sacramento Police Academy, but had to wait six months due to an injury.

During that time, despite no longer having a paid position with the Davis Police Department, Corona maintained her commitment to being a part of the DPD by volunteering, even after she was assured a position would be waiting for her when she recovered. She attended the Sacramento Police Academy last January and had just finished her field training on Dec. 12, 2018 after graduating. She was a solo officer for just a few weeks before her death.

During his testimony, Labbe encouraged officers from Davis and the surrounding areas present in the audience to join in with shouts of agreement while he listed characteristics describing the young officer.

“There will always be a seat reserved in my briefing room for you,” Labbe said, addressing Corona.

Davis Police Chief Darren Pytel spoke next, addressing the crowd in attendance as well as the Davis community. He spoke of Officer Corona’s resilience, enthusiasm and can-do spirit. Pytel mentioned a bet he had made predicting that Corona would eventually end up as police chief herself one day.

Pytel awarded Corona’s family a Purple Heart and Medal of Distinction award at the ceremony for her service. Addressing members of the Davis Police Department and officers in attendance from across the state, Pytel spoke about moving forward after this tragedy.

“We are resilient, let’s not be divisive,” he said. “Let’s use this as an opportunity to join together to find ways to protect the community.”

Corona’s father and three younger sisters also spoke. Following her father’s speech, the entire ARC Pavilion rose to their feet in a standing ovation.

The ceremony ended with a final prayer and the beginning of the gauntlet and procession which would take Corona’s remains to her final resting place.

Written by: Ally Russell — campus@theaggie.org


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