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CHP Honors Fallen Officer's Family

Richard Hoover was given a plaque in his father's honor. It had to be done now as Hoover has been diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer.

On the evening of Aug. 31, 1934, CHP Officer Donald Hoover was riding his motorcycle home on what is now Soquel Drive, then the Santa Cruz-Watsonville Highway.

According to the CHP, as he reached Commercial Way (Slaughterhouse Curve in 1934), "a vehicle turned from an adjacent roadway into the path of Officer Hoover ... [who] struck the vehicle, rendering him unconscious, and he died a short time later from injuries he sustained in the collision."

Hoover was just 31. He had been with the CHP since he was 26, when his wife, Gladys, gave birth to their son, Richard.

Today, Richard Hoover is 84-years-old and lives with his wife, Jean, in Aptos. 

Since 2009, the CHP has been working to get a piece of Highway 1 dedicated to Officer Hoover. 

"We proposed legislation to the state to name a portion of Highway 1 in the memory of Officer Hoover," Officer Sarah Jackson said. "It would be the A. Donald Hoover Memorial Highway somewhere along Soquel Drive."

The process of highway dedication is a lengthy one, and time is of the essence for the Hoover family, as Richard was recently diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. So the CHP decided to present him with a plaque that mimics how the highway memorial will look on Tuesday in his home. 

Although bedridden, emotional and unable to efficiently communicate verbally, Richard Hoover was visibly and obviously moved by the CHP's gesture to his family.

"This is bittersweet, but the CHP was kind enough to realize that he won't be here in September," Jean Hoover said. "This is wonderful for him. I'm so happy for him."

Jean and Richard have been married for nearly 30 years and both have daughters from previous marriages. Jean said their family feels like they have been welcomed into the CHP fold over the years. 

"The highway patrol has just been wonderful and we've enjoyed meeting them and knowing them, and we feel like part of their family," she said.

Over the last decade, a memorial plaque has been hung in Hoover's honor in both Sacramento and Washington, DC. 

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