SACRAMENTO (CBS13) —This is a dark day for the French family.

Deputy Robert French’s death is tragic in its own right, but it also comes 10 years, to the day, his parents were killed in a plane crash.

His law enforcement colleagues Deputy French as a mentor, friend, and brother.

RELATED: Shootout That Killed Sacramento Deputy Stemmed From Stolen Vehicles

A street-wise, devoted patrolman, who never became jaded — always smiling, always looking for the bright side.

“This is certainly the most difficult thing any department can go through,” said Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones. “And it’s not just our department. We lost a deputy sheriff, but the entire community and all agencies lost a brother officer.

At Deputy French’s El Dorado Hills home, an American flag flies proudly outside, neighbors say his devotion to his community extended to his front yard, as a do-it-yourself landscaper.

“Oh, I’m shocked,” neighbor Julie Engberg said “I never expected this to hit so close to home.”

The 52-year-old French leaves behind a live-in girlfriend, three adult children, and grandchildren.

He was hit by a high-powered weapon during a wild shootout with a gunman suspected in a stolen car case on Auburn Boulevard in Sacramento County and died on the way the hospital.

Deputy French’s death comes ten years to the day his own parents died in a plane crash during takeoff at the Cameron Park airport.

Now on the milestone anniversary, he lost his parents, his family and this Sacramento community, have lost Deputy Robert French.

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