Saturday, Feb. 16 started out like any other Saturday night for friends Jeffrey Baird, Brian Grider and Nicholas O’Loughlin. They attended an Azusa Pacific University basketball game and watched a client of Baird’s perform in a cover band in Glendora. What happened next would make this Saturday night stand out for all the wrong reasons.
O’Loughlin, 28, a former Cal Poly Pomona student, baseball player and San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy, was killed early Sunday morning while off-duty in a vehicle collision in Chino. His vehicle was struck by the vehicle of Yijie Mao, 26, of Alhambra, who was under the influence of alcohol and marijuana, according to news reports.
The collision took place at 12:30 a.m. at the corner of Euclid and Edison avenues. O’Loughlin was traveling south on Euclid Avenue and Mao was traveling west on Edison Avenue, according to news reports.
After graduating from Upland High School in 2008, O’Loughlin spent two years at Fullerton College and one at Cal State Fullerton. Cal Poly Pomona head coach Randy Betten was looking for a catcher to add to his 2013 roster.
“He’s a coach’s dream,” Betten said. “He did everything I asked him to do on a daily basis to prepare mentally as well as physically.”
Betten described O’Loughlin as “an unbelievable guy” off the field and on it a “tough out at the plate” and a “grinder behind the plate.”
After the 2013 season, O’Loughlin returned to Cal State Fullerton where he completed his degree in kinesiology.
Before the team’s next home game on Feb. 21 of this year, a moment of silence was observed, and flags were flown at half-staff.
Grider, Baird and O’Loughlin met through O’Loughlin’s younger brother Jonathan, who worked with Baird’s friend Josh at a Stater Brothers. Baird and O’Loughlin realized when they met, that they both attended Cal State Fullerton despite never seeing each other on campus.
The next semester, Baird was sitting in the back of a class when O’Loughlin came in.
Both were studying kinesiology and from then on, they coordinated class schedules and spent time together outside of class.
Minutes before the accident, O’Loughlin spoke to Grider and Baird about life and his future. O’Loughlin said he was hoping to switch from the sheriff’s department to the fire department, but that he would accept whatever “God’s calling was.”
Later that morning, Baird awoke to missed calls from an ex-girlfriend who was a mutual friend of O’Loughlin. Baird called back, thinking something was wrong with her until she told him what happened. Baird woke up Grider to inform him of what happened.
“I went through a rough patch around this time last year and Nick was always the one to step up to the plate and help me out,” Baird said. “He’d call me at 10 at night after I was getting off of work just to check in on me.”
Before attending the police academy, Grider and O’Loughlin worked together at a Home Depot distribution center in Ontario and carpooled to work every day.
“He was the most consistent person I’ve ever met,” Grider said. “If Nick said he was going to be somewhere at 11:45, he was there at 11:40.”
The only time O’Loughlin was late to anything, according to Grider, was when O’Loughlin’s battery in his truck died.
O’Loughlin, his brother Jonathan, Baird, Grider and two other friends went on vacations to Las Vegas and Mammoth where the group rented out a cabin. Grider remembers O’Loughlin taking the lead if no one else in the group did and always being “calm, cool, collected.” But if music started playing, O’Loughlin would be the first to start dancing, no matter the genre of music.
Deputy Sheriff Shane Sumonsavadit met O’Loughlin while they were both at police academy in July 2017. During the six months in the academy, the two became close and after graduation spent time together outside of work.
A few months back, O’Loughlin and Sumonsavadit went out to dinner and met at Sumonsavadit’s house prior to leaving.
Sumonsavadit had recently purchased a new dog and O’Loughlin “turned into a kid” when he saw the dog and started playing with it.
“He just gave it that care and that comfort,” Sumonsavadit said. “That’s just the kind of person he was with anything, anyone.”
Sgt. Shannon Laub worked with O’Loughlin for nine months at the West Valley Detention Center. Laub’s father was a Marine for 30 years and O’Loughlin’s haircut and demeanor “screamed to me former Marine.”
“He was just no nonsense. There were so many days I just had to tell him, ‘Stop, I need you to eat.’ He was like a robot, he wouldn’t stop,” Laub said.
Laub described O’Loughlin as having a great sense of humor, “a heart of gold” and that on the job he was “firm but fair” to inmates.
She found out what happened at 4:45 a.m. the morning of the accident. Laub was preparing for her shift in the locker room when she received a text from her lieutenant saying she needed to meet him in the captain’s office.
Baird moved in with Grider two weeks before the accident and according to Grider, they are looking for a place to live with O’Loughlin’s brother Jonathan.
“It was always Nick and Johnny,” Baird said. “If we were going up to their house it was Nick and Johnny’s house, it wasn’t Johnny’s house, it wasn’t Nick’s house. It was always them together.”
Even when O’Loughlin moved out, whenever the friends would go to his new house, it would still be “Nick and Johnny’s house.”
If the three friends do find a house to live in together, when their friends come over, it will no doubt still be referred to as Nick and Johnny’s house.
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