by Dina Kupfer

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — One year ago today, Sacramento police officer Tara O’Sullivan went out on a call and lost her life.

A memorial overlooks the soccer field at College Park High School in Pleasant Hill where she spent her younger years scoring goals under the direction of Head Coach Randy Madison, and where her path to law enforcement began.

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“We had some good times on that field, I guess it’s a good place to have her,” Madison said.

Tara was just 26 when she lost her life in the line of duty as a Sacramento police officer. One year later, the pain is still raw for her parents, Denis and Kelley.

“Still waking up and not believing this bombshell dropped in the middle of our lap – it hurts,” Denis O’Sullivan said.

The O’Sullivan’s home in the Bay Area is blanketed in memories of their late daughter.

“We just call this Tara’s corner. It’s nice to kind of sit here and just look at a small part of her life,” Kelley O’Sullivan said.

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She loved soccer, ceramics, photography, and dogs — especially her best friend Nero. The O’Sullivans are now caring for Nero, a comforting daily reminder of Tara.

Tara was just 15 years old when she decided to enter the explorer program to learn more about law enforcement. Sgt. Fred Ferrer with the Martinez Police Department was Tara’s mentor in that program.

“I miss her,” Ferrer said. “She was quiet, a little reserved at first, but once she started going, you knew she was going to be a force to reckoned with.”

After high school, she joined the police academy, graduating in December 2018. Just six months into the job, Tara went on a domestic disturbance call with her training officer when shots were fired. On June 19, 2019, Tara paid the ultimate sacrifice.

“We’re really proud of her. Just proud, and kind of a little bit in awe too,” Kelley O’Sullivan said.

While Denis and Kelley won’t be able to hold their daughter again, Tara’s legacy carries on.

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“Her last dying act was to protect somebody she never met. I don’t know too many people that would do that,” Madison said. “But she did. That’s how she should be remembered.”