The South Pasadena Police Department is mourning one of its newest members, who died on Saturday last week one day after receiving his COVID-19 diagnosis.
Bayron Salguero had only started work as a certified dispatcher last week, after joining the department less than a year ago and beginning his training for the role. He was 30.
“Wednesday was his first shift after training,” Deputy Chief Brian Solinsky said in an interview. “Completing training is somewhat of a milestone in law enforcement, no matter what position you have. Two days into it, he was notified that he was positive with [the coronavirus].
“It escalated extremely quickly,” he added grimly.
After joining the department, Salguero spent months in training, starting with the basics of working at the department and eventually diving into the craft of taking calls and sending out the dispatches. Solinsky recalled that Salguero told him he eventually wanted to work his way up to become a dispatch supervisor.
“I remember he and I had talked about that when he first got hired; I called him into my office and I asked him where he saw himself in a few years,” Solinsky, who is serving as the acting police chief, added. “I was on his interviews when he first got hired. I spoke with him weekly. Just a great person, great attitude, big infectious smile, a professional. He loved the profession of law enforcement.”
According to department records, Salguero’s first unsupervised call last week was a 911 caller who hung up at 5:59 p.m. on Jan. 13. (He called the man back, only to be hung up on again; patrol officers found nothing in the area where the call came from.) His second call was a little more South Pasadena — a resident calling at 7:27 p.m. to report that an unfamiliar vehicle had exceeded the 72-hour parking limit.
Sharae Sandoval, a dispatcher with SPPD, said she helped to train Salguero for several months last year, before he moved onto another mentor. She said she spoke with him right after he got his COVID-19 diagnosis on Friday.
“I talked to him at 9:30 or 10 p.m. that night,” she said. “He said he’d just gotten the results back and he was going home. Not even 12 hours later, he passed.”
Added Solinsky: “It’s tragic no matter what, but when you see young people getting it, it’s an eye-opener.”
Sandoval remembered him as an easygoing man who was dedicated to helping his nephews during their distance learning, spending his leisure time hiking or embarking on other outdoors activity and listening to music. She fondly recalled that she could count on him to eat her leftovers during their training months.
“He was very self-correcting and if we told him something to do, he did it right away. He was definitely a family man,” Sandoval added. “He didn’t let many things get to him. He just was very grateful for anything. He definitely made us all here a better person. We lost a really, really good friend.”
A GoFundMe page launched on Sunday night had generated $17,135 from 177 donors within less than 24 hours after beginning with a goal of $10,500. The funds are to be used for the medical expenses as well as the funeral costs.
Javier Alvarado, who is engaged to one of Salguero’s sisters, started the page and, in the cause description, lamented that he was only days away from moving in with his future brother-in-law. Salguero, he said, had recovered from a 2015 diagnosis of systemic capillary leak syndrome — a condition that “almost took his legs” — and was unfortunately at a high risk of complications from COVID-19.
True to Salguero’s reputation, the page has several photos of the Los Angeles man exploring hiking trails and a beach during his outdoor excursions.
“He was the kindest person you could have ever imagined being around,” Alvarado wrote. “His ability to make people smile and bring joy to every person he met is the type of quality that is rare and pure. He was the type of person that would do anything to brighten up anyone’s day and do his best to help anyone in need.”
As of the Review’s press deadline, the GoFundMe had generated $23,375 from 242 donors. To contribute, visit gofundme.com/f/bayron-salguero-adventure-is-out-there.