A Department of Public Safety (DPS) officer killed in a car crash last Friday is being remembered by the USC community for her warmth and dedication.
Officer Sonya Lee, 49, was driving along the Imperial Highway in Inglewood when she collided with a 2004 Infinity FX35 traveling at a high speed. The drivers of both vehicles were immediately sent to nearby hospitals, and Lee succumbed to her injuries while being treated.
As specified in a press release tweeted out by the Inglewood Police Department, the driver of the Infinity "may have been racing" a four-door, gray BMW. Authorities are still seeking additional information surrounding the crash from any possible bystanders.
A staff member of DPS for 14 years, Officer Lee will leave a void in the hearts and minds of the USC community at large, according to John Thomas, USC's DPS chief. Thomas said he believes the loss of her presence at the university overall will have a huge effect: "Not only is our department lesser, but our entire campus community is lesser because that's one less person who's here serving." Regarding her legacy, Thomas said he saw and will continue to see Lee as an officer that was "very well-loved and respected…the epitome of everything any chief would want in an officer." Following the incident, fellow DPS officers across campus donned black bands across their badges – a symbol typical amongst law enforcement in mourning – to express their condolences for Lee and her family. A Florida native, Lee's body is expected to be returned to her home state for a formal ceremony in the coming weeks.
As for USC, Chief Thomas said that he hopes the university will "do something here on campus to remember her, so other members of the university family can take part." Thomas plans to hang her picture in DPS offices for years to come.
"This is an individual who basically decided that of all the careers, she was going to choose to serve," Thomas said. "And of all the places that she could have done that, she chose to do that here at USC."