SAN PABLO, Calif. (KGO) -- A beloved San Pablo police officer who dedicated his life to helping at-risk teens died in a crash on I-80 Thursday morning.
"We loved you. We miss you already," one student said.
Sadness over the loss of San Pablo Police Department Ofc. Ken Zink, 53, is written all over the faces of those at Helms Middle School.
"A lot of our students felt really connected to him," Helms Middle School Principal Jessica Petrilli said.
The officer was on I-80 on his way to Helms when his motorcycle crashed into a truck.
He was ejected and was then hit by a flatbed trailer.
Word of Zink's sudden death spread quickly through the school. "I wouldn't think anything like that would happen to him," student Imani Easily said.
Zink as he was affectionately called was everything for some of these students because many are low income and at risk.
Zink encouraged them to work hard and succeed. "He was like a father figure to me and I'm so sad that he is gone," student Taylor Adams said.
Adams expressed her grief and in a poster she hopes to give to Zink's family. "Rest in peace Ofc. Zink. I miss you. Watch over me and the school. I miss your advice. I love you and hope I see you again soon," she said.
Zink joined the San Pablo Police Department nine years ago.
In that time, he was named officer of the year and recognized for his work in narcotics investigations.
He is survived by his seven children.
Click here if you'd like to help make a donation to help Zink's family pay for funeral costs.