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HIGHWAY NAMED FOR DEPUTY LAKE LOS ANGELES LAWMAN SLAIN IN 2003 GUNBATTLE.

Byline: CHARLES F. BOSTWICK Staff Writer

LANCASTER -- A six-mile stretch of Highway 138 through Llano has been named in honor of a Lake Los Angeles sheriff's deputy killed in a 2003 desert shootout.

A sign for the Deputy Sheriff Steven Sorensen Memorial Highway was unveiled Wednesday in a Lancaster sheriff's station ceremony that included Sorensen's widow.

``Steve is probably the epitome of what we want a deputy to be. He understood not only the letter of the law; he understood the spirit of the law,'' said Capt. Carl Deeley, Sorensen's commander at the Lancaster sheriff's station.

``He'll be a role model for future generations who will want to know who Steve Sorensen is.''

The signs, approximately 4 feet by 11 feet, were to be displayed Tuesday beside Highway 138 near 135th Street East and near 195th Street East, state officials said. One was already posted, and the sign unveiled in Lancaster was to be installed after the ceremony.

The $5,000 cost to create and install the signs was paid by the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the union representing deputies.

``To every person that sees the sign, they will appreciate more the job that deputy sheriffs do for them day in and day out,'' ALADS President Steve Remige said.

The highway name was approved under legislation introduced by Assemblywoman Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, less than a month after Sorensen's death.

The stretch of highway is the nearest to the area where Sorensen patrolled, and about two miles from where he was killed Aug. 2, 2003, outside an isolated trailer.

Sorensen, 46, had been resident deputy for three years in Lake Los Angeles, working mostly out of the house where he lived with his wife, Chris, and their toddler son, Matthew.

A surfer as a teenager in Manhattan Beach, Sorensen had been a lifeguard and an Army military policeman before joining the Sheriff's Department 12 years earlier.

In Lake Los Angeles, her husband handled everything from barking dogs to child-not-breathing calls, Chris Sorensen said. He bought groceries for needy families and let children sit in his patrol car and switch on the siren.

The day that he was killed was a Saturday, his last work day of the week, Chris Sorensen said.

``He called to say he had one more thing to take care of. He ended our conversation with, `I love you and tell Mattie I love him,''' Chris Sorensen said.

The memorial signs, she added, will mean ``good will be remembered rather than evil.''

Sorensen was shot at an isolated Llano trailer, where he had stopped and radioed in the license number of a parked car after following up a routine trespassing complaint nearby.

What happened then is not known, but investigators believe the trailer's resident, a 52-year-old anti-government loner named Donald Kueck, shot at Sorensen with an assault rifle.

Sorensen returned fire but didn't hit Kueck.

Kueck had tried nine years earlier to get Sorensen prosecuted for a ``road rage'' incident near Lake Los Angeles, but authorities say there was no evidence the men recognized each other and believe Kueck was angry a deputy was on his property.

Kueck's family said he told them by cell phone that he was afraid of being arrested and panicked when Sorensen tried to stop him from driving away.

He told his family he struggled with the deputy and shot Sorensen with the deputy's pistol, then with his own rifle. Authorities said Sorensen wasn't shot with his pistol.

After a six-day manhunt, Kueck was cornered at a desert homestead. He died in a gunbattle during which deputies used road flares to set fire to the shed in which he was hiding.

Deputies kept the use of road flares secret for months, but Los Angeles County district attorney officials later said their use was reasonable and lawful under the circumstances.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

(color) Lancaster sheriff's station Capt. Carl Deeley and Chris Sorensen, the widow of Deputy Steven Sorensen, unveil a sign that will go up on a portion of Highway 138 as Assemblywoman Sharon Runner watches. The deputy was killed on duty in 2003.

Jeff Goldwater/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 19, 2006
Words:688
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