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Paying tribute to the past

Lecture honors CHP officers killed in Newhall incident

Posted: April 6, 2009 1:50 a.m.
Updated: April 6, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Former California Highway Patrol officer Harry Ingold and Gary Kness recount the April 5, 1970 Newhall Incident during the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society lecture on Sunday. The lecture commemorated the 39th anniversary of the tragic event.

 

Santa Clarita revisited its history on Sunday during the SCV Historical Society Lecture on the Newhall incident.

More than 100 people crammed into the Saugus Train Station Heritage Junction in William S. Hart Park to hear former California Highway Patrol officers recount the April 5, 1970 incident that took the lives of CHP officers Roger Gore, Walt Frago, James "Skip" Pence and George Alleyn.

The event sponsored by the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society also included words from Gary Kness, a Santa Clarita resident who heroically came to the aid of the officer that night in 1970.

"It's great that we keep (the slain officers') memories alive - that they didn't die in vain," said Harry Ingold, former CHP officer.

Ingold was on duty in Newhall the night of the incident. He and former CHP officer Roger Palmer arrived at the scene seconds after Bobby Augusta Davis and Jack Twinning fled the scene after killing the four CHP officers in the Newhall incident,.

The two officers were more than a mile away when they got the officer down call.

"I heard Pence screaming in the radio 11-99 (the code for officer needs help)," Ingold said. "You could go through you whole career and never hear that code."

The officer made a U-turn and sped to the scene in their 1969 Dodge Polara. "I put the pedal to the medal," Ingold said. He buried the needle on the speedometer and the pair arrived seconds after the two killers fled.

"When we came around the corner, there was still smoke in the air," Palmer said.

Gary Kness also shared his story from the Newhall Incident. Kness was on his way to work when the incident started and came to the aid of the officers who were gunned down.

When Kness initially saw the fracas, he wasn't sure what to make of it.

"I thought the (CHP) was making a movie," he said.

Kness tried to drag Alleyn to safety during the gun battle and managed to strike Davis with one shot from Alleyn's revolver. The city of Santa Clarita honored Kness as a hero.

"I'm not the hero. These guys in the uniforms are heroes," Kness said.

Marilyn McDaniel co-owned the Standard service station where the shooting occurred. She attended Sunday's events and struggles with the memories of the Newhall incident.

"I can still cry when I talk about it," she said.

The tribute resonates with current members of the CHP, Officer John Lutz said.

"I think it's wonderful," he said about Sunday's turnout. "I work at the Newhall station and am reminded of the incident every day."

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