Wife of Gilbert officer hit by car during pursuit ‘overwhelmed’ by support
PHOENIX – The wife of a Gilbert police officer who survived being hit by a car during a pursuit said she has been overwhelmed by the emotions of the situation and from the kindness of her husband’s coworkers and strangers.
“They don’t know us, but the fact they’re supporting us is amazing. I’m forever in debt to everybody,” Idalia Ontiveros, wife of Officer Rico Aranda, said Wednesday during a press conference.
Aranda suffered a serious brain injury when a suspect driving a stolen car hit another car during a confrontation in the late hours of April 29 in Gilbert. The second car struck the 27-year-old officer.
Chandler Police Officer Christopher Farrar was killed and Jonathan Altland, 25, was arrested. He faces charges of murder, aggravated assault and auto theft, after leading authorities on a car chase across two counties that ended at a car dealership where the two officers were hit.
The officers were taken to Chandler Regional Medical Center. Aranda, 27, has been on the force for three years.
He has been transferred from the hospital to a rehabilitation center, Ontiveros said.
“It’s uncomfortable to even think about having to ask for help, but everybody let me know it was OK to reach out. Some of these people I didn’t even have to ask for help – they just did it on their own,” Ontiveros said.
She and Aranda, married for four years but together for 10, have two boys, 8 and 2.
Ontiveros is proud of her husband; being on the force is “his dream job.”
But she does worry.
“There are nights that I am up wondering what time is he going to text me? ‘What’s wrong, why hasn’t he called me?’ But it’s just part of the job.”
Immediately after she learned Aranda was hurt, “it was super heartbreaking. I couldn’t handle it – it was a lot of stress, it was overwhelming. I didn’t know what to think.
“But I thank God every day he’s alive. I’m so happy he’s alive.”
Ontiveros said her husband plans to go back to work as soon as he’s able.
“He’s going to protect and serve, he said. He loves Gilbert PD … and he loves the community. He said it’s unfortunate what happened but he wouldn’t take back what he did and that’s what he signed up for.”
The Gilbert Police Leadership Association opened a GoFundMe account to benefit Aranda’s family.
Ontiveros added the Farrar family were in her prayers.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report.