WHEATON, MD (WUSA9) - The locations serves the community like he did. Montgomery County renamed the Wheaton Glenmont Outdoor Pool after fallen Sgt. Hector Ayala.
Tuesday marks seven years since a 31-year-old Montgomery County officer gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Sgt. Hector Ayala was responding as back-up (Easter Morning) at around 2:20 a.m. on April 4th, 2010, when his cruiser left the roadway and struck a tree near the 3000 block of Randolph Rd.
He succumbed to his injuries at Holy Cross Hospital, leaving behind a 15-month-old son and his wife, who was pregnant with triplet girls at the time.
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Those triplets are now six-years-old. Their older brother is seven, says Melissa Ayala, Sgt. Ayala’s wife and widow.
She gave an emotional speech at the Tuesday ceremony to mark the county’s renaming of the Wheaton Glenmont Outdoor Pool after the fallen Montgomery County hero.
“It’s an honor, it’s a great honor because now I know that his sacrifice is not unrecognized. And his – his sacrifice won’t be forgotten. People will remember him. People will ask about him and will know that he gave up his life for this county and he did one great job at every single day he did what he had to do,” said Melissa Ayala.
“This is an absolute – just a wonderful way to honor Hector’s service and honor his sacrifice,” said Montgomery County Police Chief, Tom Manger who thanked the county for approving the name change. “It’s truly a fitting tribute to Hector."
“It is particularly fitting because this pool services so many families in the police district where Sgt. Ayala spent his entire career,” said Montgomery County Executive, Ike Leggett. The pool’s location is also close to where the fatal crash took place seven years ago.
The county executive, police chief and multiple county councilmembers joined several police officers and the Ayala family for the renaming ceremony. Many of those there wiped tears as Mrs. Ayala shared one of her fondest memories.
“The one thing I can relive are the sounds of his safe return home, which will forever be etched in my mind and in my heart. I can easily close my eyes and hear the car door close, the front door open and shut, his boots pounding the tile floors as he walks into the entryway, the keys hitting the table and the sound of the Velcro of his vest ripping apart as he officially ended a hard day at work and arrived at the destination he felt most peace. Every time I would take a deep breath and that relief would set through: he’s home. If there’s any inspiration that I can share from my grief and my loss, is to appreciate the smallest details life offers,” said Mrs. Ayala.
In addition to being remembered at the site, Montgomery County Department of Recreation Director, Gabe Albornoz announced what will be the Sgt. Hector I. Ayala Safe Summer Initiative. Starting in 2018, the Department of Recreation plans to hold a free community event that will include swimming instructions and safety instructions in memory of Sgt. Ayala.
Councilwoman Nancy Navarro said it’s important to not only honor the man who gave the ultimate sacrifice, but to also honor a Hispanic leader who served the community he loved.
“They think it’s the best thing in the world,” said Melissa Ayala when asked what her kids think of the renaming, “He’s their hero.”
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