2017-01-06 / Front Page

New Year’s Day crash claims life of officer

Three others injured
By Melissa Simon


MEMORIAL TRIBUTE—Flowers, candles, photos and other memorabilia adorn a memorial for Heather Monroe, a Los Angeles Police Department officer and Simi Valley resident who was killed in a traffic collision in the early morning hours of Jan. 1 at Cochran Street and Sycamore Drive. Monroe, who was off duty at the time of the crash, was a seven-year veteran with the LAPD. 
MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers MEMORIAL TRIBUTE—Flowers, candles, photos and other memorabilia adorn a memorial for Heather Monroe, a Los Angeles Police Department officer and Simi Valley resident who was killed in a traffic collision in the early morning hours of Jan. 1 at Cochran Street and Sycamore Drive. Monroe, who was off duty at the time of the crash, was a seven-year veteran with the LAPD. MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers The exact cause of a collision that took the life of an off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officer and injured three other people in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day is still under investigation.

Heather Monroe, 30, of Simi Valley was killed around 2:10 a.m. Jan. 1, when the black Scion she was riding in collided with another vehicle in the intersection of Sycamore Drive and Cochran Street, said Simi Valley Police Cmdr. Robert Arabian.

Alayna Monroe, 25, also of Simi Valley, was driving the Scion, which was headed south on Sycamore Drive, police said. Heather and Alayna Monroe were married, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.


Courtesy of LAPD Courtesy of LAPD The second car, driven by Shemisha Burns of Los Angeles, was heading east on Cochran Street at the time of the crash. Burns was operating the vehicle as an Uber and had a passenger in the car, the commander said.

Heather Monroe was pronounced dead at the scene. Alayna Monroe, Burns and her passenger were taken to Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks, where they were treated for minor injuries and released, Arabian said. No other vehicles or pedestrians were involved.

Arabian said it appears one of the vehicles may have failed to stop at a red light, but it is unknown at this time which driver is at fault. Police are also investigating whether drugs or alcohol were involved.

Authorities are in the process of reviewing surveillance videos from neighboring businesses to find out exactly what happened.

“With no actual witness to the crash, we have to do our best to piece it together,” the commander said. “Speed does not appear to be a factor given the damage to the cars.”

Blood samples were obtained from both Burns and Alayna Monroe, and police are waiting for results from the Ventura County crime lab.

‘Tragic start’

Flowers, candles, notes and other memorabilia were placed at Sycamore Drive and Cochran Street in Simi Valley this week in honor of Heather Monroe.

She joined the LAPD in 2009 and was most recently stationed at the LAPD’s Devonshire Division, according to the Los Angeles Times. She had previously worked at the Van Nuys Jail and the Mission Division.

In a statement on the LAPD’s website, spokesperson Josh Rubenstein called the accident a “tragic start” to 2017.

“Losing an officer is devastating, but the pain is intensified for the men and women of the (LAPD) when it happens during what is supposed to be the happiest time of the year,” he said.

A statement provided by Uber to the Acorn on Tuesday said the ride-sharing company’s “thoughts and prayers are with the officer’s family, the LAPD and the law enforcement community.”

“We are thankful police have confirmed our driver . . . and her passenger were not seriously injured and wish all of the injured parties a speedy recovery,” the statement said.

Arabian said police are waiting for autopsy results to determine Monroe’s exact cause of death. It appears she was wearing her seat belt at the time of the crash, police said.

“It appears the air bags deployed properly in the vehicle Monroe was riding in, (and) the driver was likely not wearing a seat belt but survived,” he said. “The vehicles still need to be inspected for any anomalies that may explain . . . the cause of death.”

In 2016, Simi Valley had six fatal crashes and nearly lost SVPD Officer Tom Carney in a serious motorcycle accident.

“It is our biggest wish this year as we look toward a positive future that all our drivers will drive a little slower, pay close attention to the traffic laws and be courteous to each other so we can avoid a repeat number of fatal collisions in 2017,” police said in a statement.

The intersection of Sycamore Drive and Cochran Street was closed for 11 hours while SVPD conducted its investigation and gathered evidence.

Anyone with information regarding the collision is asked to call Arabian at (805) 583-6990.

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