SANTA FE SPRINGS – Sandra Romero remembers feeling something was oddly wrong that day. “I knew something bad was going to happen – I just didn’t know what it was,” she said. At about 10 a.m. Sept. 23, 2005, she telephoned her husband, David, and asked, “Are you OK?” “He said, `You really are a worry wart,’ ” Sandra recalled. Twenty minutes later, California Highway Patrol Officer David Romero, 47, was dead, hit by a speeding car driven by a suspected drunken driver. The impact vaulted the 23-year CHP veteran into the air. He landed nearly 100 feet from where he had stopped his motorcycle at a red light at Turnbull Canyon Road and Valley Boulevard in Industry. For the first time since Romero’s death, his wife talked about her loss during a visit Thursday to the Santa Fe Springs CHP office where David Romero worked for 21 years as a motor officer. She said she wanted to thank the community for their many gifts and expressions of support following her husband’s death. “I just love the man he was,” Sandra said. “He joked around a lot, but he knew when to take things seriously. He wasn’t selfish. It was never about him, always about someone else. I used to tell him, `You have a heart of gold.”‘ Last week, Rudy Saldana Lopez, 26, of Whittier was ordered to stand trial on one count of murder with intent to kill a peace officer and one count of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. Lopez remains in jail without bail. He is scheduled to be in court again March 17 for an arraignment. Romero’s widow said she is angry at the man accused in her husband’s death. But she is also slowly focusing on rebuilding her life. Moving on means leaving David behind, she said, and that is hard to do. Since her husband’s death, Sandra Romero said she has lost about 26 pounds, can’t sleep through the night and cries spontaneously whenever she thinks about him. She said David’s death has been especially hard on their 8-year-old son. “David Jr. really misses him,” she said. “They used to have stuffed animal fights every night before he went to bed. You couldn’t walk in that room without getting hit. Now, he says to me, `Mom, you don’t throw like Dad used to.”‘ She recalled how she often got angry at her husband’s practical jokes, which could be extreme at times. Now, she remembers them fondly. “It got to the point where I’d pull all the covers off the bed before getting in at night because he sometimes put a battery-powered snake under the covers,” Sandra said. The couple were married in 1993. It was a second marriage for both. They each had two children from their previous marriages. During their last phone conversation, Sandra said she also talked to David about the new puppy he brought home the week before. They chatted about their plans for that Saturday, which included a trip to a racing track. David said when he got home, he would help his son with his homework. Romero was the second CHP officer from the Santa Fe Springs office killed in the line of duty. In April 2004, Santa Fe Springs Officer Thomas Steiner, 35, was gunned down outside Pomona Superior Court by a 16-year-old boy now serving a life sentence. Mando Gonzalez, one of David Romero’s closest friends, said the two shared a lot of good times and laughs, but he believes David is in a better place now. “We’d meet somewhere for lunch or breakfast and talk about what we’ve been doing, our families,” said Gonzalez. “The main thing with Dave was his family.” David’s former co-workers at the Santa Fe Springs office remember him as a mentor to younger officers and a constant practical joker. “I have faith in God and think there’s a reason for everything,” said Officer Gary Montanez. But for Romero’s death, Montanez added, “I just don’t know what it is.” Montanez, who worked with Romero for 15 years, said he and fellow CHP motorcycle officers are always aware of the dangers of their job, but they cannot allow fear to get in the way of their work. “The motivating factor for me is the satisfaction I get from keeping the public safe,” he said. “If I allow myself to be so consumed by fear, I won’t be able to do this job.” Over the past six months, five CHP officers, including Romero, have been killed in the line of duty, prompting CHP Commissioner Michael Brown recently to order that all patrol officers be debriefed to see if changes in department policies are needed to improve safety. For Romero’s family, friend and co-workers, his loss will be felt indefinitely. “He was my life,” Sandra said. “I learned a lot of things from him – life is so precious.” firstname.lastname@example.org (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3026 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!