By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 5, 2010; 10:38 AM
A Montgomery County police officer whose wife is pregnant with triplets was killed Sunday when his police car ran off the road and struck a tree in Wheaton, officers said Sunday night.
Hector Ayala, 31, was responding to a call from another officer who needed assistance at the scene of a fight, a department spokesman said. Ayala was driving west on Randolph Road about 2:20 a.m. when his 2003 Ford Crown Victoria left the road and slammed into a tree.
"He was a great friend, a great police officer, a great husband. He was definitely everything rolled into one human being," said Officer Philip Meyer, who met Ayala at the Montgomery police academy seven years ago and recently worked on the same shift.
Police released little information about the crash, saying that many of the details, such as whether Ayala was wearing a seat belt, were under investigation.
Fluent in Spanish, Ayala was invaluable working the midnight shift in the Wheaton district, where many residents speak only Spanish. He regularly was called by other officers to help interpret.
Ayala's parents were from Puerto Rico, said Meyer and another colleague, Alex Miranda. Ayala grew up in New Jersey, where he met his wife, the two officers said.
Ayala's wife gave birth to their first child, a son, 14 months ago. "He's walking around, a ball of energy," Meyer said.
Ayala was always buying tiny toy cars and trucks for his son, his friends said. The officer liked working on real cars in his spare time.
After finding out his wife was pregnant with triplets, Ayala seemed ready for the challenges. "He was ecstatic about it," said Miranda, who had been tapped to be a godfather to one of the children.
The triplets are due in June. Ayala's colleagues told his wife about the crash Sunday morning.
At the police academy seven years ago, Ayala taught classmates how to box, and he later took them to Atlantic City to see pro fights. He took an intellectual approach to policing and talked about possibly joining the FBI.
He spent his entire Montgomery career in the Wheaton district, his friends said. He particularly enjoyed working "midnights," in which officers work from 8:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., often responding to events as they're happening.
"He felt like he could make more of a difference," Meyer said.
Even in the middle of the night, it wasn't uncommon for Ayala to hear from his wife.
"She always called Hector to check on him," Miranda said.