Two area state legislators made a special Colorado State flag presentation to County Sheriff Derek Navarette in honor of the late County Sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Moreno at the Tuesday, June 11 meeting of the County Board of Commissioners.
Sgt. Moreno, age 37, died while on duty in a tragic traffic accident at about 8 p.m. on Wednesday, December 12 just east of Valdez, approximately 20 miles west of Trinidad. Two other local citizens, Taelor Roybal, age 23, and her son, Ezekiel Valdez, age 1, both of Trinidad, were also fatalities due to the crash. Roybal, who was driving a 2003 Chevrolet sedan, died at the scene, while Valdez was transported to Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, but died of his injuries a few hours later. Two other sheriff’s deputies, Trent Gomez, age 25, and Kenny Lopez, age 22, both of Trinidad, were also injured in the crash.
State Senator Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa, and State Representative Kimmi Lewis, R-Kim, all three County Commissioners and several other dignitaries were on hand for the flag presentation. The flag was contained inside a commemorative plaque.
Sen. Crowder and Rep Lewis ran the legislation to honor Moreno’s memory in the most recent session of the Colorado General Assembly. Crowder spoke about the risks law enforcement officers take in the performance of their duties. “This actually cuts to the core of the dedication that our police officers have for the state,” Crowder said. “My research showed that Trinidad has actually lost two officers in the line of duty previously since 1869. Police officers are the mainstay of this country. The reality is that they tend to run toward danger, when as citizens we run away from it. So we really have to commemorate them for what they do for us as citizens, but when we lose an officer that cuts to the core of all of us in Colorado. What we’d like to do is present this to the Sheriff’s Office. We felt that would be the most public display of adoration to this profession that we could give.”
Rep. Lewis also commented on the dedication of law enforcement officers who, like the late Sgt. Moreno, risk their lives every day in service to the people. “Each day our policemen and women go out to take care of their communities,” she said. “Every day we know that they are in harm’s way, and they do that every day. It’s a sad affair and we’re sorry for the loss here in Las Animas County, both Sen. Crowder and I, and we just wanted everyone to know how honored we are to be here today and present the flag, and that’s because we know these people put their lives on the line for all of us everyday and we need to think about that.
These are the people who work to protect us and we need to remember that they are there.”
Sheriff Derek Navarette was presented with the flag, sharing his memories of his late law enforcement colleague. Crowder asked Navarette to accept the flag as a memorial to the fallen officer and the department he worked for.
A memorial baseball game by the Trinidad Triggers in Moreno’s memory will be held, beginning on Sunday, June 16 at 3:05 p.m., on Father’s Day, in Central Park. A special ceremony in Moreno’s memory will be held after the conclusion of the game against the Garden City Wind. After the ceremony, the annual “Blue Game” will be held between the Triggers and a team made up of Trinidad-area First Responders from local emergency services agencies.