There are people who touch our lives, but we will never know them. Eric Thach is one of those people to me.
He died two days before I turned 31, and his death set in motion events that would change my life.
During the early afternoon on Friday, October 8, 1999, Deputy Eric Thach was dispatched to a report of an open door at a residence in Pedley where homeowners were out of town.
Deputy Thach walked in on a home invasion robbery. At this point, Deputy Thach broadcast an 11-99 (officer needs immediate assistance).
Deputy Thach was apparently checking alongside the residence when he was shot through a window from inside the residence.
Units responding to the 11-99 and were on scene within one minute of the broadcast. The units at the scene pulled Deputy Thach from the area of the residence and administered first aid. It appeared Deputy Thach had been shot with a large caliber weapon. Deputy Thach was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead about 2 hours later.
Following the shooting, the suspect fled the residence, and ran into the Santa Ana riverbed and started several brush fires in the area in an attempt to escape.
The suspect was subsequently shot and fatally wounded during the search of the riverbed.
Deputy Thach had been employed with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department since September 1996. He was assigned to the Southwest Detention Center until January of 1999, when he was transferred to the Jurupa Valley Station. Deputy Thach had patrolled the area where he was ambushed since May of that year.
Deputy Thach left behind a wife and a daughter.
One of the responding deputies from the Riverside County, Calif., Sheriff’s Department was my spirit brother Mike Angeli. Thach’s death solidified his and his wife, Diana’s, desire to leave California and let their children return to family roots in Klamath County.
Mike wears a bracelet with Thach’s information engraved as a lasting testament to brotherhood and loyalty. When the Angelis came to Klamath, Mike joined my Kiwanis Club. Bob Davies, who had sponsored me in the service group, was close to the Angeli family. Eventually, Diana would join, too. We learned this year that Mike’s grandfather A.G. Morrison was a member of the club in a bygone era.
My spirit brother is cut from the same piece of cloth as me. We believe a community is only as great as we are willing to make it; good must always triumph over evil; loyalty extends beyond death.
Saturday Mike dedicated the former Klamath Falls City Police station in Thach’s memory. He’s renovating the space to be like a castle keep. For me, it will be Thach’s Keep. The building will keep Thach’s memory alive and stand as a reminder that there are people who risk their lives every day to keep us safe.
Sometimes, even after a public servant is gone, their legacy continues in the strong bonds of people who respect their sacrifice and benefit from events they set in motion.
Thank you, Deputy Thach. You’ve given me the gift of people who have stood by me in the best and worst of times. Your memory will always be a blessing.