HACIENDA HEIGHTS, Calif. – A chauffeur was killed in the
line of duty when a man carjacked his limousine in this Los
Angeles suburb slightly before midnight Tuesday, July 29.
The chauffeur was 70-year-old Robert “Bob” Gooch of
Montclair, Calif., a full-time employee of City of
Industry, Calif.-based Lincoln Limousine for three years.
According to the company’s owner, Gerardo Ortiz, Gooch was
on his way back from a birthday outing when he stopped for
A man carrying a squeegee approached him and asked if he
could clean the windows of the limo but then proceeded to
jump in the car and drive away. Ortiz believes the keys had
been left in the car.
Gooch tried to stop the perpetrator from taking the
limousine, or he got caught on something, and was dragged
with the car for about 40 feet.
Then, the carjacker hit a pole, put the white, 180-inch
stretch in reverse and backed over Gooch twice, only to
abandon the limousine three miles away.
Police were continuing to search for the suspect.
Gooch was taken to a local hospital but later died from the
injuries he sustained.
“My daughter looked at me and said, ‘Dad, Bob gave his life
for our business,’” Ortiz said. “That hurts. It makes me
feel horrible. My business isn’t worth that much. But it is
now, isn’t it?
“In this industry, you start out thinking your car is so
special and then you realize it’s just a tool,” he
continued. “The car is not as important as a chauffeur. The
chauffeur is the one that does the wheels right.”
And there was no question in Ortiz’s mind about whether
Gooch, a Korean War veteran, did just that.
“He was basically everything that anybody would like in a
chauffeur,” the 8-car operator explained. “Bob was a man of
conviction, a man of integrity. He’d go out of his way to
take care of people; he’d try to make the most of their
event. He always was concerned with the client. As far as
I’m concerned, what else can you ask for?”
The accident has led other chauffeurs at Lincoln Limousine
to say they will do things differently.
“If somebody approaches me, I’m going to ask them to step
away because I don’t want the same thing to happen to me,”
said Daniel Gutierrez, Gooch’s co-worker.
He also advised chauffeurs to be more aware of their
surroundings and to avoid stopping at a gas station late at
“Put the keys in your pocket,” added Ortiz, “or let the car
go; don’t even try to save it.”
Ortiz has set up a memorial fund benefiting Gooch’s wife of
40 years and two sons. Gooch had no life insurance.
Donations are welcome: Send checks payable to Robert Gooch
Memorial Fund to Lincoln Limousine, Box 5302, Diamond Bar,