EL CENTRO — A highly regarded nearly 24-year veteran of the El Centro Police Department has lost his battle with COVID-19.
Efren Coronel, 51, a senior patrol officer and assigned Officer in Charge for his patrol team, reportedly had been hospitalized in San Diego over the past three weeks before finally succumbing to the illness Wednesday.
He is survived by his wife, as well as a son and a daughter.
Coronel started his career with ECPD on Dec. 17, 1996, according a press release. His past assignments included school resource officer at Central Union High School, traffic investigations and motor officer.
He was also very active in youth athletic programs, serving many years as coach of the Dynamo girls’ soccer team.
“It’s a tough time for the family and many police department personnel,” ECPD Cmdr. Aaron Reel said in a text. “I worked my entire career with Efren. He was my hero.”
Eneida Mejia’s daughter played soccer for Coronel, and she herself has known him for several years. “What can I say about Efren?” she said. “No words do him justice. He was such a kind, loving and respectable individual. A true community hero, one that we need more of in this world nowadays!”
Mejia said the Dynamo club will be holding a drive-by parade in Coronel’s honor at 7 p.m. Friday in front of his house on Whitney Way in El Centro. The parade will line up at Farmers Park off Barbara Way.
Players are asked to wear a Dynamo shirt or jersey and to write a poster, letter or card showing support for Coronel’s daughter, Galilea, who is a member of the team. Cards and notes will be placed in a box and set at the family’s doorstep.
“Remember to wear your mask at all times,” Mejia added.