By Marlee Ginter

ELK GROVE (CBS13) – An Elk Grove Police Officer hit and killed by an alleged drunk driver had recently spent time in his community reminding people not to drink and drive. Officer Ty Lenehan was a husband, a father, and an air force veteran, but the title many give him is community hero.

“I cried. It’s heartbreaking. It’s just heartbreaking,” said Rhonda Campbell.

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Campbell is a victim advocate with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, in Sacramento. She lost her sister who was just 12 years old to a drunk driver in 1981.  But it was just one month ago when Officer Lenehan stood out on the street with Rhonda and her mother, Kathleen Harris, reminding drivers not to drink and drive.

“My heart just sank and I just cried. I cried. It’s so so sad. They’re out there to help us. They’re out there to serve us and it’s just got to stop,” said Kathleen.

Investigators say 31-year-old Jermaine Walton was driving the wrong way on Highway 99 when he hit Lenehan head-on while he was on his police motorcycle.

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Court documents show Walton, now charged with DUI and murder, has a history of drunk driving offenses.

“To see somebody whose life dedication was serving his community and who stood next to me and my family at a DUI checkpoint and try to do for the common good, you know, it’s heartbreaking,” said Rhonda.

A memorial grows outside the Elk Grove Police Department and a highway billboard now marks Officer Lenehan’s “End Of Watch.”  They’re messages from his community showing that he’ll be missed as one of the last messages he put out to his community at a DUI checkpoint was one that should have saved his life.

“We lost a great officer. We lost a great human and somebody who was making a difference in the world and that’s really sad,” said Rhonda.

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Rhonda says Officer Lenehan’s loss should stress the need for tougher DUI laws. She’s pushing for interlock devices to be required for repeat offenders.  MADD says such devices stopped 28,000 drunk drivers from starting their vehicles in 2020.