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One Year Later: Fallen PSPD officers honored at highway dedication and memorial ceremony

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PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Fallen Palm Springs police officers Lesley Zerebny and Jose "Gil" Vega were honored and remembered with a highway dedication and memorial ceremony in Palm Springs Sunday morning.

The Highway 111 dedication began at 8:30 am at the Palm Springs Visitor's Center on 2901 N Palm Canyon Drive.

The dedication started with a moment of silence for the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. 

"We're here today to honor Jose 'Gil' Vega and Lesley Zerebny and to remember the sacrifices they have made and the courage it takes to address the evil in a community," Chief Reyes said.

A four-mile stretch of the highway was renamed the "Police Officer Jose 'Gil' Vega and Police Officer Lesley Zerebny Memorial Highway." The stretch of road runs from Overture Drive to West San Rafael Drive. Signs will also be put up honoring the officers as drivers enter Palm Springs.

"They paid the ultimate sacrifice in their efforts as gate keepers of our community, and so it is very fitting for a portion of Highway 111, the gateway into Palm Springs, to be forever named in their honor," said Reyes. 

Following the highway dedication was the memorial ceremony honoring Vega & Zerebny. It started at 10:00 am at the Palm Springs Police Department in front of the Palm Springs Police Officers' Memorial statue.

Members PSPD spoke about the two officers as well as family of Zerebny and Vega. 

"She loved being a police officer. she loved being a member of the Palm Springs Police Department," David Kling, Zerebny's dad, said.

Vegas' youngest daughter, Vanessa Vega, also reflected on the last text message she received from her father before he passed away. 

"The last message he ever sent was, 'You're beautiful and I love you. And he's a really tough guy, but once you get to know him better, he's a really kind person," Vanessa Vega shared.

David Kling, Zerebny's father, stressed how much his daughter loved for her job and the community she protected.

"Lesley can't talk to you now, but I truly believe she can see some good things that happen on earth, and I want you to know she loved the city of Palm Springs and this police department," Kling said.

One of the youngest in the crowd was baby Cora Zerebny. She was sitting with her dad Zack Zerebny. Chief Reyes sent a special message her way, in part; 

"Today's event will be recorded so you can view it and understand all that occurred. In the coming years you'll learn more about your mother and Gil Vega...You were four months old when they were taken away from us...I want you to understand that your mother and Gil devoted their lives to serving others...Your mother and Gil are giants in our profession. We, in our profession, walk in the foot steps of heroes like your mother and Gil".

A 21-gun-salute was presented as family and fellow officers unveiled two plaques, with Zerebny and Vega's names etched into the memorial plaza.

Watch our special, In The Line of Duty: One Year Later.

 


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