Rialto Councilman And Former Policeman Shawn O’Connell Gone At 48

Rialto City Councilman Shawn O’Connell, whose indomitable spirit was in evidence as a police officer and again displayed itself after he was paralyzed from the waist down in an off-roading accident, shuffled off his mortal coil late last week.
O’Connell was scheduled to participate in a Friends of the Rialto Library event Saturday Night, June 4. He never arrived. This alarmed those who knew the ever-punctual O’Connell and a missing person report was filed that evening.
Rialto police were unable to locate O’Connell anywhere in Rialto. A bulletin reporting on his missing person status was more widely distributed.
On Sunday morning, Rialto police checked at Kaiser Hospital in Fontana, determining that O’Connell was not there. Around 11 a.m., they went to Loma Linda to see if he was perhaps at Loma Linda University Medical Center. While they were passing through the 24800 block of Redlands Boulevard, one officer noticed what appeared to be O’Connell’s van. At 1:09 a.m. an officer looked inside the van. O’Connell showed no sign of being conscious and was unresponsive. Medical personnel arrived within minutes, after which point O’Connell was pronounced dead at the scene.
The coroner’s office will conduct an autopsy to determine how O’Connell died.
He had been forced into retirement after he was injured in a rollover accident in 2006. He refused to
accept the limitations fate had imposed on him and purchased a van which was outfitted with toggle controls that allowed him to operate it.
That ethos of rugged independence was not trouble free. In December 2013, as he was driving to Victorville to the home of a friend who was to do some adjustments to his wheel chair, he began experiencing back spasms and lost control of his van, which careened down an embankment and into open brush near Glen Helen. He lay incapacitated for more than fifteen hours, with his van lodged out of sight of passersby. A search was initiated for him but it was not until he was able to locate and activate his cell phone to call Rialto Police for help that anyone had any contact with him. After he was instructed him to dial 911, the California Highway Patrol was able to use a device it possesses to triangulate his location. He was hospitalized with a broken vertebrae, bruised lungs and a bruised kidney.
In 2012 he had run successfully for a position on the Rialto City Council.
As a police officer, O’Connell had run a patrol team and was a crisis negotiator for the SWAT team. He was named Rialto Officer of the Year in 1998.
A memorial service will be held for O’Connell at 11 a.m. Tuesday June 14 at Sunrise Church, located at 2759 N. Ayala Drive in Rialto.

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