MECCA, Calif. - Part of state Route 86 today will be named after a California Highway Patrol officer fatally struck by a car after pushing his partner out of the way.
The segment of Route 86 from Interstate 10 to a mile north of Airport Boulevard will be renamed the CHP Officer Saul Martinez Memorial Highway at a ceremony at 9 a.m. at an elementary school, also named after Martinez in Mecca.
Martinez died on May 15, 1997, a week after being struck by a vehicle north of Palm Springs, according to the CHP.
Martinez and fellow CHP Officer James Donovan Rice were working a graveyard shift on May 8, 1997, and investigated a vehicle parked on the shoulder of a road north of Palm Springs. A car traveling more than 15 feet off the road came toward the officers, and Martinez shoved Rice to safety and was struck by the car. The 39-year-old Martinez never regained consciousness, according to the
Martinez was with the CHP for seven years and recently had been named Latino Peace Officer of the Year for San Bernardino and Riverside counties for his service in "El Protector," a CHP traffic and safety program for Hispanics.
Then-Gov. Pete Wilson posthumously awarded Martinez the Medal of Valor, the state's highest public service award.
After the dedication ceremony, there will be a reception at the Boys & Girls Club at 91-391 Avenue 66, Mecca.
The event may cause traffic delays on Johnson Street and Avenue 66, according to the CHP.