LOS ANGELES — A California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer killed by a suspected drunk driver was passionate about nabbing DUI suspects after watching his father struggle with alcoholism, the fallen sergeant's brother said at a memorial in Riverside attended by hundreds, including Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Daniel Licon said his mother once asked Sgt. Steve Licon what he would do if he caught his father driving drunk, and he responded that he'd cuff him right away.
"How would I feel if I didn't do my job and somebody was hurt by own dad driving drunk?" Steve Licon said, according to his brother.
Steve Licon, 53, was fatally hit by a car on April 6 after he had pulled someone over for speeding on Interstate 15 in Lake Elsinore.
Police say 36-year-old Michael Joseph Callahan of Winchester was driving drunk when he hit Licon. Callahan has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in Licon's death.
Other family members and colleagues recalled how passionate Steve Licon was about his job, partially due to watching his father battle alcoholism until he got sober in 1982, according to Daniel Licon.
Though it took a while, he said Steve eventually learned to trust and forgive his father, and the two grew close.
Friends and family also remembered Steve Licon's trademark, high-pitched laugh, his tight bear hugs, his incredible work ethic and his love of God, motorcycles, and John Wayne. Not only was he passionate about his profession, but he was a consummate family man, they said.
His wife, Ann Licon, wept as she said her husband showed and told her every day that he loved her.
"He would hold my hand at church, at the movies, and when we'd go to bed at night, he would hold my hand until we fell asleep," she said. "My husband was my protector, my strength, my love, my heart."
Daughter Marissa Licon, 22, said her dad always told her how proud he was of her and went to as many of her soccer games as he could.
The biggest lesson he taught her, she said, was how to be tough.
"Anytime I'd fall on my motorcycle or fall on the field, he'd be right there telling me, 'You're OK, suck it up,'" she said, adding that nothing ever slowed down her dad.
"To me, my dad was invincible," she said, crying. "Never did I imagine that my dad would not be here to see me graduate college or walk me down the aisle ... I just want you to know that however proud of me you are, I'm prouder to have you as my dad."
Licon's memorial followed a somber procession that included dozens of motorcycle officers riding through the streets of Riverside to a church where firefighters stood saluting on top of their trucks. A giant American flag was draped from the trucks' ladders over the roadway as Licon's hearse passed.
Licon also is survived by daughter Kelly McDougall, son Stephen Grillo, and his parents, Helen and Lawrence Licon. He was preceded in death by his 12-year-old son Nathan, who was born with disabilities.
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