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 the 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 a result of the toxic smoke that he inhaled. One of the transfusions he received during 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 was a United States Air Force veteran who served with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, assigned to the Firestone Station. 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

bloodborne pathogen, communicable disease

Most Recent Reflection

View all 21 Reflections

Big Tom as I called him was like a brother to me when I was a little runt. He lived with us a lot of the time and really doted on me. Taught me how to shoot a basket when I was 5. He was always affectionate and loving to my mom and family. Everyone loved him and I think of him a lot. My dad said we were very much alike as kids. Where did the time go my cousin. You were my hero. Until we meet again. Rest. Look over us. ❤️

Lou Fabrizio

February 13, 2024

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