Colleagues remember Fresno police detective who died of cancer

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno police detective who died after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer was remembered on Friday as a man who even as he was dying, was checking in with other officers to make sure they were OK.

Edgar Valle Sandoval passed away two weeks ago, just a few months after he was diagnosed with the serious disease. He was born in Mexico City and came to the United States as a teen. Family members say he loved serving others, earlier in life as a food manager on a cruise ship, then as an assistant manager at the Elbow Room, until he finally fulfilled his dream of becoming a police officer.

Chaplain Rod Lowery says only one thing could get to Sandoval -- making fun of his thick accent.

"So we would talk back and forth and after Edgar would make a statement, I'd look at him and I would turn to Al and say, "What'd he say?' And every time that just irritated the fire out of him," said Lowery.

Officer Vince Zavala met Sandoval when they were applying to be cadets. They were both hired and instantly became inseparable. Their badge numbers are only a digit apart, and they worked the same beats side by side for years.

"We had this ritual that would take place before every shift. I guess you could say it was more of an argument. The argument consisted of, 'Hey, did you ask sarge if we can ride double?' 'No, did you? I did it last time.' Needless to say, that would take place for the next 30 minutes before one of us gave in and did it," said Zavala.

Police Chief Jerry Dyer described Sandoval as always positive and optimistic, even when he faced the personal heartbreak of losing his daughter Natalia to brain cancer. Nothing dampened his spirit, including dealing with some of Fresno's hardest criminals.

"Let me tell you, this guy was an incredible street cop, not only because of his ability to go out and arrest people, but the way that he interacted with people out on the street. Even the people that Edgar arrested loved Edgar, and that's not always the case," said Dyer.

His compassion and care for others prompted him to become one of the department's companion officers. This group reaches out to other officers facing hardships and difficulties.

On Friday, his wife, Roni, and daughter Sophia were presented with the flag and Sandoval's badge. The department officially logged him off. And hundreds were escorted out of Peoples Church to celebrate his life, in just the style Sandoval would have wanted.

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