Out-of-town sheriff’s deputy comes to the rescue
It’s not often we recognize everyday heroes. A local Malibu resident wanted to spread the word of a local deputy who helped him out of a jam on Pacific Coast Highway.
Just two days before Christmas, longtime resident Fred Walecki was driving down PCH as he’s done hundreds of thousands of times throughout his many decades living in Malibu.
“I’m breezing down PCH and right past Corral Canyon, I heard my tire blow up,” Walecki said. “Of course, I immediately pulled over at the earliest opportunity, a bit breathless, worried that the car could lose control.”
When Walecki, a beloved figure in the Los Angeles music scene whose family owned Westwood music for half a century, got out of his car he knew sure enough it was a blowout. He got back in his car and called AAA. Unfortunately for Walecki, who lost his regular speaking voice due to a laryngectomy, the Auto Club phone system is completely automated, making it difficult for him to be heard. However, before he realized it there was a knock on his window. Help had already arrived.
“I look up and there’s a nice sheriff [sheriff’s deputy] smiling at me,” he said. “I lowered the window and he said, ‘You know, you’re in a kind of dangerous spot. How can I help you?’ I said, ‘Well, I called AAA and I’m on hold. The automated phone does not recognize me.’ He said, ‘Let me help you.’ I’ll talk to the automated system for you.’ So, I said, ‘Thank you.’”
The deputy, whose name is Brian Judge, advised that Walecki exit his car and invited him into his cruiser with lights flashing to warn passing drivers that something was going on. Judge told Walecki that it was a dangerous spot to be waiting on PCH and that the least he could do was help to ensure his safety by parking nearby and flashing his hazard lights so he wasn’t in danger of being rear-ended.
When Judge finally reached AAA, he was told it would be a 30-minute wait and Walecki had already been waiting a full half-hour. So, Judge told Walecki, “Fred, I can change a tire.”
Walecki was astonished at the officer’s kindness. Judge did warn Walecki though that if he was called away that would take priority and the Auto Club would serve as back up. “It was very sweet of him,” the Malibu guitar expert and luthier said.
Between the two men who had never before seen the unusual jack on the car, they figured it out, the deputy changed the tire, and Walecki was on his way once again.
Overwhelmed with gratitude, when Walecki later went to the grocery store and saw some sheriff’s deputies he showed Judge’s picture to them.
“I said, ‘You wouldn’t believe this, check this out’ and they said, ‘Oh we know him. He’s a great guy.’” Walecki recalled. “I told them he did more for community relations in my world than I could ever even think about. It was very nice of him.” Walecki also previously told Judge his name should be “Sheriff Angel.”
The Malibu Times tracked down the kind Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputy. He is Sgt. Brian Judge, who has served 16 years with the department. Judge’s regular jurisdiction assignment is in the Compton/South Central Los Angeles area. He works overtime to help out in Malibu, which has contracted for extra patrols on PCH.
While his shift was wrapping up on Dec. 23, Judge heard what sounded like a blowout and saw a car in trouble.
“I asked if he needed help and he indeed needed help,” the 38-year-old officer recounted. “He reminded me of my grandpa on my dad’s side. I had no problem in helping him out in an unfortunate situation.”
While he changed the tire, Judge stayed on the phone with AAA “just in case.”
It’s all in a day’s work for the law enforcement officer who said, “I love working overtime in Malibu. The people there are amazing, considerate, and grateful. It’s nice working there. The community is fantastic. It’s been good to me. I enjoy helping out the community.”