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Fallen Heroes Details

In Memory Of
Pat Coyle
San Diego County Sheriffs Department, CA
End of watch: 1997-02-16
Aircraft: MD 500D
Deputy Pat Coyle, 42, was critically injured and died about three hours after his aircraft crashed while investigating suspected trespassers. The accident occurred at 19:44 hours on private property near Santee Lakes, a rural area about 20 miles northeast of San Diego.

His death marked the first fatality in the 25-year history of the sheriff's ASTREA helicopter unit.

Coyle, during a funeral Mass in the Immaculata at the University of San Diego, was eulogized as a devoted husband and father who had attained his dream job as a flying sheriff's deputy.

"Patrick Steven Coyle was a heroic and courageous deputy sheriff who never gave up," Sheriff Bill Kolender said. He died with his law enforcement friends - his second family. He was never alone."

Coyle's law enforcement family came to honor him, and a procession of black and white cars wound its way from San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium to the church. The pews were filled with a sea of deputies in olive drab dress uniforms adorned with black mourning ribbons, and with friends from as far away as Scottsdale, Arizona, and Northern California.

An oversized portrait of a beaming Coyle was in front of the altar, where 20 years before he had graduated from high school. Maybe that smile, described as the kind one could hear, provided some comfort.

Police Chief Mike Poehlman of Oceanside, Coyle's close friend for 25 years, said Coyle reminded him of the central character in the movie It's a Wonderful Life. "Coyle was a generous, big-hearted man who was able to touch many people in his short but full life," he said. He was "a real family person, very devoted to his children and helping young people in the community."

"All he wanted to be was a street cop," Poehlman said, "All he wanted to be was where the action was." Poehlman recalled their start in law enforcement as police cadets in El Cajon, the Catholic faith they shared, and the good times they spent body-surfing on beaches from Ocean Beach to Oceanside.

He talked of the love Coyle had for his wife of 13 years, Jackie; his daughter, Chelsea, 5; and his son, Cory, 9. "I think those (heavenly) hosts are saying here lived a great friend who did his job," Poehlman said, "Thanks God for sharing him before taking him back to you. Coyle had worked as a deputy in the Central and Vista jails, on patrol in Fallbrook and recently staffed overtime shifts in San Marcos, where many deputies knew him. "His personality was magnetic," San Marcos Sheriff's Sgt. Mark Coppes said. "He was a gentleman and very well respected."

Sgt. Frank Adams of the Fallbrook Sheriff's Substation was Coyle's superior during his two years there. Coyle took routine patrols in Fallbrook and was instrumental in starting the station's bicycle patrol, Adams said.

Coyle "was a very proactive deputy," he added. "People enjoyed him. He was the mascot of the station, a big teddy bear and a good guy. You could really depend on him."

Coyle had a lifelong Interest in flying. Had a private pilot license, was instrument certified and was working on a commercial pilot license, Poehlman said. In addition, he was an avid body surfer and had served as a judge several times in the world body surfing championships.

"He was very enthusiastic about his job," said Sgt. Jack Dunn of the Sheriffs Aviation Unit Deputy Coyle, an Oceanside resident, was responsible for getting a sheriff's helicopter dedicated to the North County, he said.

"It's easy to say something good about someone after they're gone," added Dunn, "but he was in fact extremely well liked by the people he worked with." Coyle was also a parishioner at St. Francis Catholic Church in Vista. Both San Diego natives, Poehlman and Coyle met as 17-year-old high school students in the El Cajon Police Department's cadets program. "It was there where we became friends," Po

Thoughts and Memories of Pat Coyle

Uncle Pat you are in my heart always, there is not a day that goes by that you are not thought of. Thank you for all the fun times we had while I was growing up, the skiing trips, airplane rides, roller coasters and best of all just sitting around on the living room floor just being silly and laughing. You are the best uncle anyone could ever ask for and then some.

I love and miss you,

Devonna XOXO
Devonne Donohue
Uncle Pat- Although I dont remember you very well, I miss you very much. I think of you and it brings tears to my eyes. Jackie, Cory, and Chelsea are all doing good. Its very weird that your not here to make memories with. Well I will see you up in heaven..

Your Niece
Shannon Luby
My Dear Brother Pat, ten years ago tonight, you left us to go on to better places. We miss you still so very much and we always will. Cory and Chelsea have grown up so much. Chelsea is beautiful and Cory is handsome just like you.I still can hear you laughing and you doing your pig imitation. Your where the greatest. Love to you ,

Your Sister Toni
Toni (Coyle) Zuback
Uncle Pat,

There is not one day that goes by that does not have thoughts of you in them, I often remember all those summer vacations my sister Devonne and I got to spend with you in Vacaville, from riding roller coasters to river rafting or taking a cruise on the motorcycle up to the lake. I miss all the fun times we've had, you were always there for us , for advice or just to lend a shoulder.

I often think about what you would look like now, maybe a distinguished look in glasses and peppered hair. I Wish I Could See for myself. YOU ARE MISSED SO MUCH !!! I Love my UNCLE PAT and I WISH YOU WERE HERE.

All My Love Michele XOXO
Michele Tewell
Every time I see ABLE or ASTREA in the air, I remember the crash in Santee. An impact that quieted the community but remember the person you are. I hate to think of it as a loss, but I would also like to think of it as a gain. We now truly have a shoulder angel ASTREA high above watching over all of us. I met you a couple of times when I was younger at ASTREA base and thought you were a funny out going person. You also made an impact of my choice of Law Enforcement and made me think, "God, I want to be just like Deputy Coyle." God bless your family and friends that were very close to you. We love you. We will not forget you.
Frank Dillinger
Pat, no one could have ever imagined the impact your death would have on your unit and many others. You should be proud of your ASTREA brothers, as they have evolved in countless aspects in direct response to your tragic death. The lessons learned by your friends, fellow crewmembers and superiors have been shared with many others throughout our industry. Many of us are so much safer today because of the price you paid. I only wish you could be here with the rest of us. We promise to never forget you. Thank you.
Todd Jager, San Diego Police Department
Pat- Everytime I walk by your picture by my desk I remember the good times that came with your contagious laugh that none of us will ever forget. I will always remember the "reality check" you would give us when we thought times were tough. I will never forget the "Mastadon" smile and your upbeat attitude towards EVERYTHING! I wish you could be here to see the evolution of ASTREA, which was a direct result of the ultimate price that YOU paid for the rest of us. Thank you for the impact you made on all of our lives. Your Friend, Tony Webber, San Diego Sheriff's Department/ASTREA
Tony Webber
To my dear friend Pat,

It is so hard to believe it has been eleven years since you left this world. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think of you. Boy, I miss you so much. Your laughter, your smile, your darn pig squeal. I still can see you with your curry hair, wearing your pig nose and uniform going around oinking. Boy, what a slight! You always had a way to keep us all laughing. You were the best friend a person could ask for. I still wonder why it had to be your time to leave us. I know you are looking down on us and guiding us through our lifes. Cory and Chelsea have grown into young adults and when I see them I see so much of you. Please contuine to watch over them. They need your love more than I.

I have been so blessed to have called you my friend. Pat, I miss you so much.

I Love You Pat. Your Friend Always.

Sharon McNair
ell first of all, I wish I could have had some more memories of the best man that I had ever known..I still wonder to this day why it had to be MY FATHER but as they always say the good die young and you are definitely the kind of person that fell into that category.I wish you could have been here to point me in the right direction and also to follow in your footsteps..I will miss you forever dad and wherever you may be at this time just know that I love you and will try to find things to fill that empty part of me that belonged to you..Rest in Peace Patrick Steven Coyle.
Cory Coyle
Dear Pat; It's so hard to believe you've been gone for 10 years today. Hopefully, through our thoughts and prayers, you know that your family and friends have not forgotten you, nor will we ever. All of your cousins, myself included, admired you and remember what an incredibly fun, genuinely nice, thoughtful and focused person you were. We talk about you still, and fondly recall all the huge family get-togethers in the tiny houses our parents lived in! I hope you know how much we miss you.

Cousin Mollie
Mollie Zinn-Murray


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