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Deputy in coma from 2004 accident dies

October 26, 2008|Esmeralda Bermudez | Bermudez is a Times staff writer.

A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy who stood out for his youthful energy, despite being one of the older recruits to join the force, died Friday afternoon four years after a car struck him, sending him into a long-term coma. He was 44.

Randy Hamson was investigating a traffic accident one night in 2004 along a poorly lighted highway in Santa Clarita when he spotted a passing car with its headlights turned off, officials at his local sheriff's station said. When he used a flashlight to get the driver's attention, a second car hit him.

The driver never saw Hamson and was not charged, officials said.

"It was devastating," said Lt. Tom Bryski, who used to work the night shift with Hamson.

"We didn't know how badly he was hurt because with his head injuries, you couldn't tell," Bryski said. "We always hoped for recovery, but this is one of those cases when recovery never came."

Hamson, who joined the Sheriff's Department in 1999 at age 36, was known as a jovial father of three who was always willing to work hard. He switched to the night shift in order to spend more time with his family, said Lt. Brenda Cambra, a former supervisor.

After the accident, community residents responded with an outpouring of gifts, letters and flowers.

As Hamson lay in a care center in Pomona, deputies would show up for Christmas and decorate his room with lights and a holiday tree, Cambra said. A banner with the American flag hung at the station, urging Hamson to not give up.

"Our hearts and thoughts go out to the family," she said. "He was a wonderful asset to the station, and we miss him every day."

Services are pending.

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esmeralda.bermudez@latimes.com

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