Among the 25
people who perished on Friday when a commuter train crashed
head-on with a freight train in a Los Angeles suburb was a
lesbian LAPD officer.
Spree Desha, 35,
was riding home from Los Angeles Police Department
headquarters downtown when the Metrolink train she was on
crashed at about 4:30 p.m. in the Chatsworth section
of the city. Hours after the crash, Desha's body was
carried out of the train draped by an American flag as
fellow police officers and rescue personnel saluted her.
A strong, quiet
presence, Desha was loved by her fellow officers and
train riders. She proudly wore her uniform on the train to
reassure riders that they were under the watchful eye
of the police.
Desha -- a patrol
officer since 2001, first in North Hollywood and then
downtown Los Angeles -- was a standout presence in the LAPD,
and many believed she had a big future in the
department. Desha earned 34 formal commendations in
her personnel record. Many fellow police officers
recalled how Desha spearheaded a cancer fund-raiser where
she shaved off her hair to raise money for research.
At a recent press
conference, Desha's parents told the media about the
love their daughter had for her job and for helping people.
Desha's partner, Laura Gerritsen, also spoke. "She
would do anything for anybody," Gerritsen said of
Desha. "She was such a giver -- she didn't have a bone
of hate in her body." (Neal Broverman, The