On Monday morning, Vanessa Vega returned to school – but she didn’t arrive alone.
More than a dozen Palm Springs police officers escorted the 8 year old on her first day back after her father, José “Gill” Vega, was killed in the line of duty two weeks ago.
“Vanessa is very near and dear to us, and it’s important for our agency to show her that family doesn’t go away just because someone dies in the line of duty,” Palm Springs Police Sgt. William Hutchinson told Fox News Latino. He added that he believes it’s important to keep that bond.
“She lost her daddy and her best friend, and while we can’t replace him, she should know she’s got the support she needs in the challenging times in her life ahead,” Hutchinson said.
Her father, who was 63, and his partner, Lesley Zerebny, were shot and killed after responding to a family disturbance call at a Palm Springs home on Oct. 8.
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The Palm Springs officers picked Vanessa up at her home and drove her to Rio Vista Elementary where she attends fourth grade. The department had to limit the number of officers who escorted her in order to avoid causing a traffic jam.
At a memorial honoring her father, Vanessa said he taught her everything – baseball, karate and running.
“Just because we can’t see him doesn’t mean he can’t see us," she says in the video. She added that he was, “a good cop, dad, grandpa and brother and many more. He was happy with his life, he was happy with everything."
Hutchinson told FNL that the department is brainstorming on ideas of ways to help the family.
“That poor little girl probably won’t date until she’s 50 with all the uncles waiting to scrutinize the boy,” he said jokingly.
Hutchinson said the agency is looking toward the future for the children of both Officers Vega and Zerebny, who had just given birth to 4 month old.
“We’re a tight family to begin with, and now we have to be more united and make sure we all get through this. We’re thinking of the future. The next BBQ and father-daughter dance. It’s an unbreakable bond. And [we] want [Vanessa] know that,” Hutchinson said.
Rebekah Sager is a writer and editor for FoxNews.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @rebekah_sager.