A 26-year veteran of the Fresno Police Department in California’s Central Valley and one of its first Hmong American officers has been killed by a wrong way driver, reports the Fresno Bee.
Phia Vang, 48, is survived by a wife and four children.
Witnesses say they saw Cameron Pryor, 33, driving erratically, going the wrong way and striking several vehicles before colliding with a pick up truck driven by Vang on the freeway. Both died on impact.
ABC30 reports Pryor has a prior DUI conviction in 2011. He was also involved in a fatal crash last September when a motorcyclist died after slamming into the back of Pryor’s truck. Police pulled Pryor over for suspected DUI a few days later, but no charges were filed when he passed a sobriety test.
“He is considered a hero in the Hmong community and a role model and somebody they looked upon and respected, and he earned every bit of that,” said Todd Fraizer of the Fresno Police Officer Association to ABC30.
His eldest son, Corey Vang, spoke to Your Central Valley.
“At first I didn’t believe it because it’s just one of those things you don’t take easily; you don’t swallow that at first,” says Vang.
Vang described video of Pryor driving right before the moment of impact as upsetting, but says he was taught to forgive and forget.
The department considered Vang a gang expert and considered his ties to the Hmong community an asset which helped build trust with that community.
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