Sergeant Thomas J. Fonte

Sergeant Thomas J. Fonte

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, California

End of Watch Tuesday, October 2, 1990

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Thomas J. Fonte

Sergeant Tom Fonte died as the result of contracting HIV following several blood transfusions that were required after a line-of-duty injury.

On September 25th, 1978, Sergeant Fonte and his partner were on patrol when they observed a large amount of smoke coming from a manufacturing facility at 7702 Maie Avenue. When they arrived on scene they observed numerous large drums of paint igniting and blocking the exit from the facility. The two deputies were able to clear a path, which allowed approximately 40 employees to escape.

Both deputies then entered the facility twice and carried an unconscious employee out both times, saving their lives. Both deputies suffered singed hair and smoke inhalation during the rescue.

Sergeant Fonte required numerous surgeries as the result of the toxic smoke that he inhaled. One of the transfusions he received during a surgery contained blood tainted with HIV. His condition deteriorated over the coming years and he died as a result on October 2nd, 1990.

Sergeant Fonte who served with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Firestone Station, was also a U.S. Air Force veteran.

He was survived by his wife, also a Sheriff's deputy with the department, his daughter, and his son who went on to become a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy as well.


  • Age 48
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge 560
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Duty related illness
  • Incident Date Monday, September 25, 1978

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Thanks Joe Walker for your research into Sgt Fonte. I'm sure his family and partners appreciate you uncovering the details of his and his partner's heroic actions.

Deputy Sheriff Los Angeles
County Sheriff

October 2, 2019

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