Memorial unveiled at Mendoza Field for sergeant killed in wrong-way crash

Tuesday marks one year since a Mesa Police officer was killed in a wrong-way crash.

Sergeant Brandon Mendoza was heading home from his shift when he was hit by a wrong-way driver on the ramp for U.S. 60 to I-10 last May.

The wrong-way driver was also killed in the crash; authorities say that the driver drove 35 miles in the wrong direction before the head-on collision hitting Mendoza.

Shortly after his death, an online petition urged the City of Mesa to honor Brandon Mendoza by naming a park after him.

On Monday, the city named a baseball field in his honor.

Family and former co-workers unveiled Mendoza Field and marked the beginning of what the City of Mesa hopes will be a major transformation of the park that the former officer spent so much time trying to preserve.

"To know that this has all come to fruition, and that the city and the police department are going to keep his legacy alive, and keep this park a safe place for children in the neighborhood to come, it does my heart good," said Mary Ann Mendoza.

Now the city hopes to raise at least $50,000 to add new bleachers, benches, and turf. Sgt. Mendoza was assigned to the area around Guerrero Park near Country Club and Southern. He was a fixture in the neighborhood and pushed to clean up the park.

"What made Brandon a special person is he wasn't just a police officer, and it was his job to serve and protect, it was in his heart, he took it personally," said Mesa Police Chief John Meza.

Since Mendoza's death, there have been several wrong-way drivers, and the state is trying to find ways to stop the problem, including installing large signs.

"I think there is more that could be done," said Mary Ann.

"My heart aches every time I hear about another accident, because I know what the family is going through, to have somebody taken from you so suddenly and senselessly it is gut wrenching," she said.

Sergeant Mendoza's family has also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the State of Arizona. They claim the Arizona Department of Public Safety did not do enough to stop the wrong way driver.

The family believes more could have been done to stop the impaired driver, Raul Silva Corona, last May.

People started call 9-1-1 when Corona was at Cactus and the 101 driving his SUV north in the southbound lanes.

The calls kept coming in as the driver made his way to the SR51, down the I-10, and to the US60 interchange when he slammed into Mendoza's car, killing both of them.

An online fundraising effort is underway to install the bleachers, benches, and turf, for more information visit: http://www.gofundme.com/u3f5nmk
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