Former Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens has died after a years-long battle with breast cancer, the sheriff’s office announced Monday.
Hutchens was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2012.
“She courageously fought this disease while still leading this department,” Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said in a statement. “Her fight was successful for eight years. Unfortunately, the cancer recently returned and Sheriff Hutchens passed this morning with her loved ones by her side.”
Hutchens was the 12th Orange County Sheriff from 2008-2019. She took over as sheriff following the federal conviction of Mike Carona for witness tampering.
Barnes said in the statement that she helped put the department back on track, that she was “a leader whose ethics matched the culture of the men and women of this department.”
“She restored our pride, gave us back our dignity and rebuilt trust with the people we serve,” Barnes said. “She kept her oath, kept her promises, and ended her time in office leaving this agency better than when she started.
“For me personally, she was a mentor and a friend. I will continue to be inspired by her commitment to always do the right thing, regardless of the consequences, and serve with the department and community’s interests first without need for self-recognition. I am tremendously grateful for the opportunities she presented me, and the many lessons I learned from her over the years.”
Rep. Michelle Steel (CA-48) released a statement saying she will miss her dear friend.
“In my role on the Orange County Board of Supervisors we worked very closely together,” Steel said in the statement. “She dedicated her career to protecting Orange County families and keeping crime low. I am praying for her family today and in the days to come.”
There will not be a memorial service. Her family has asked that donations be made in her name to Drug Use is Life Abuse — www.duila.org — or the Susan G. Komen Foundation, two charities she actively supported while in office.