FULLERTON — The 24-year-old widow of a police officer who died last weekend in a car crash now faces another tragedy: Her mother has died of a heart attack.
Leslie Fauntz, 44-year-old mother of Leslie Simons, died Tuesday after friends took her to a hospital in Whittier, where she lived.
Fauntz was among relatives, friends and colleagues who sought to console Simons after her husband, Long Beach Police Officer Karl Simons, was killed in a car crash Sunday while responding to a call. Fauntz appeared at Simons' side during a news conference in front of the couple's West Southgate Avenue home, where Simons displayed pictures of her husband and their 7-month-old daughter, Katelyn.
Karl Simons' funeral will be Friday; Fauntz's funeral will be private.
"The news has pretty much shut her down now," said Karen Kerr, a Long Beach police spokeswoman. "Her mother had been with her, helping the family deal with [Karl Simons'] death. . . . This has completely overwhelmed them all."
Long Beach police officers stood guard outside the Simonses' home Wednesday, turning away visitors and screening telephone calls so Leslie Simons and her daughter would not be disturbed.
"She just wants to get through Karl's funeral," said Rudy Romero, a Long Beach officer posted at the house. "We just need people to understand that. There's a lot of different emotions flying around inside."
California Highway Patrol officials said Karl Simons was racing north on the Long Beach Freeway at 5 a.m. Sunday when his cruiser struck the rear of a car, lost control and smashed into an 18-inch-diameter steel signpost. He died instantly.
Simons had been dispatched to a report of a stolen car parked in north Long Beach with the suspected thieves still sitting in it. He was the first Long Beach police officer to die in the line of duty since 1981, when Lloyd Lunt, a motorcycle officer, died in a collision on the San Diego Freeway.
Simons' funeral will be Friday at 10:30 a.m. at Saints Simon and Jude Catholic Church in Huntington Beach. A graveside service will follow at the Good Shepherd Cemetery on Talbert Avenue in Huntington Beach.
Fauntz is survived by her husband, Robert Fauntz, and three daughters.
Donations for the Simonses may be sent to the Long Beach Police Officers' Assn.'s Widows and Orphans Fund, Re: Officer Karl Duane Simons, 2865 Temple Ave., Long Beach, CA 90806.