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Slain deputy honored 30 years after his death

By: Jenna Nielsen, Gold Country News Service
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Retired Lt. Jim Voyiatzes of the Placer County Sheriff’s Department will never forget this day 30 years ago. Neither will dozens of other fellow officers, family and friends. “It wasn’t long before I realized he had a special quality,” Voyiatzes, a Penryn resident, said of his fellow officer and friend, Deputy James Machado, who was killed in the line of duty on July 13, 1978. “He always went a little further when it came to helping those he served.” Machado, who was a four-year veteran of the department, was shot to death with his own service weapon during a struggle with an escaped mental patient in Auburn, near Elm Avenue and Highway 49. The suspect was located a short time after still in possession of Machado’s gun, sheriff’s officials said. He was shot and killed a short time after by responding officers. Machado was honored at the Auburn Justice Center July 14 for his service among dozens of supporters who paid their respects to the fallen officer and his family. The Sheriff’s Honor Guard began the ceremony with the presentations of colors. Sheriff Ed Bonner said the sacrifice Machado made is one the entire public safety community will not forget. “We are here today to remember an unspeakable event that happened 30 years ago today,” Bonner said. “It is important that we never forget the sacrifice made by James Machado and other law enforcement officers from around the state and nationally.” Bonner presented Machado’s widow, Nancy Machado, with a Purple Heart medal, based on the one given to those who have been wounded or killed while serving in the U.S. military. “This is absolutely amazing,” Nancy Machado said following the ceremony. “The turnout today is absolutely surprising and wonderful. I don’t want anyone to forget because when they forget, that’s when things happen. I want everyone to remember what happened that day in order to help protect each other.” Jim Holmes, chairman of the Placer County Board of Supervisors, said he will not soon forget the events of July 13, 1978. “Too often I run into officers wearing a black band around their badge signifying a fallen officer,” Holmes said. “I can only imagine for those of you who have lost. The significance of the banded badge musty weigh heavy on your hearts and whenever you see a patrol car I suppose you take a closer look than all of us. “A police officer should save your life,” he said. “And we should always remember those who have given their lives to save ours.”