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Officer James Francis Crehan
(June 1, 1881 – March 31, 1914)

LAPD Officer James Francis Crehan was a police officer for slightly more than a year before he was struck and killed by a Pacific Electric Railway train, less than a block from his home.

Crehan was born June 1, 1881, in Wallacetown, Ontario, Canada, near the shore of Lake Erie, north of Cleveland, Ohio. He was the fourth of nine children born to William Stephan Crehan and Annie Killeavy Crehan, both Irish immigrants.

William and Annie Crehan settled first in New York City, where their first child, Margaret, was born in 1876, followed by John in 1877 (he died the following year), and Mary in 1878. The family moved north to Elgin, Ontario, Canada, where James was born in 1881, Kathleen in 1883, and Annie in 1885. The Crehans then moved to Wallacetown, Ontario, Canada, where Alice was born in 1889, and William in 1890, before moving back to Elgin, where Mable was born in 1893.

Annie Crehan died in March 1897, in Elgin, at the age of 42, leaving her husband with eight children between the ages of 21 and 3. James was 15 at the time of his mother’s death, and he eventually found work as a pipefitter for a plumbing company.

On Jan. 2, 1905, James, then 23, took a ferry boat from Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit, Michigan, with plans to remain in the United States. He filed his petition for citizenship six months later, in Buffalo, N.Y., then moved to Southern California, where his petition for naturalization was granted in Los Angeles in January 1912. Crehan first settled in Redondo Beach, where he again worked as a pipefitter for a plumbing company.

A month after becoming a U.S. citizen, Crehan returned to Elgin, Ontario, and married Eva May Brady, a nurse, on Feb. 20, 1912. The couple returned to Los Angeles, and lived at 1741 E. 22nd St. Crehan left the plumbing company and joined the LAPD on Feb. 1, 1913.

On March 31, 1914, Crehan had completed his shift and was walking home. He stopped at Long Beach Avenue, less than a block from his home, to wait for a Pacific Electric Railway train to pass.

After the northbound train passed, Crehan stepped onto the tracks – and was immediately hit by a southbound train that he didn’t see or hear coming. Crehan was crushed beneath the wheels of the two-car train, and died at the scene.

Crehan was the ninth LAPD officer to die in the line of duty, and the second to be killed by a train, after Officer Cecil Bowman, who was stuck and killed by a switch engine three years earlier, on June 8, 1911. Crehan was 32 years old.

After funeral services at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Los Angeles, Crehan’s body was returned to his native Canada, where he’s buried at Holy Angeles Cemetery in Elgin County, Ontario, Canada.

Crehan’s widow, Eva, married James Clarence Howell, a high school teacher, on Dec. 31, 1919, in Detroit, Mich. They had three children – Joseph, Helen and Esther.

Officer Crehan’s sign is located at the southwest corner of Long Beach Avenue and East 22nd Street.

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