PALM SPRINGS, Calif.-
This weekend fallen officers from the Palm Springs Police Department-- Lesley Zerebny and Jose "Gil" Vega will be honored at the Capital in Sacramento and the grandson of Vega paid tribute earlier this week in his own special way. For the 2nd straight year Domanick Murray captured the 400M DVL Championship, and this time it was for a local hero-- his grandfather.
"When he was on duty, he would park over here in the parking lot in front of the stadium and see what he could see. He always told me that no matter how old he got he would still always be faster than me so it was one of those things that always motivated me a little more to do better." Domanick Murray said.
On October 8th of 2016, not only did Leslie Zerebny and Jose "Gil" Vega lose their lives in the line of duty, but forever changed the lives of their families.
"Football was a very emotional time for me, cause everything had just happened, coaches were unbelievable, they were so caring and just there for me. That Palm Desert game was one of the roughest." Murray said.
Support from the community came from all parts of the valley in different ways, shapes, and forms. That included in high school sports where Domanick Murray, the grandson of Jose "Gil" Vega played football for the Palm Springs Indians. A special decal worn on the helmet and a moment of reflection before taking the field for Friday night lights.
"Ended up getting thrown in the game, and I scored my first touchdown in a varsity game. I didn't think that would actually happen and for me to be able to do something that I always wanted him to see, it really touched me. Walked to the sidelines and couldn't stop crying.
And now Domanick has used the motivation of his grandpa's support on the track. DVL Champion in the 400 meter and checking off his goals left and right.
"Very hard, especially because I have tried to make my grandpa proud, all for you, all for you name. Thank you."
"Knowing that he pushed himself each season to get towards that record with the passing away of his grandfather, that helped us gather around him and push him more. When he accomplished that the other day it warmed our hearts." said Damion Lee, a fellow senior teammate at Palm Springs.
Whether it is through friends in the community, fellow police officers, or family members like Domanick, Lesley Zerebny and Jose Gil Vega may be gone but never forgotten.