MESA, AZ - Mary Ann Mendoza knew her son had a dangerous job, but she never expected tragedy to strike, especially when he was off the clock.
"There's going to be a big void in my life. I don't really know how I'm going to go on," she said.
Her heart is breaking over the loss of her son, Mesa Officer Brandon Mendoza, who had just spent Mother's Day at her house before heading in for his shift with the Department.
"He gave me a beautiful card which I'll be able to treasure forever because, not knowing it was going to be my last Mother's Day with him. You say goodbye to your son as they're leaving and you tell them you love them. Thank goodness I do that every time he leaves. Thinking it would be the last time I saw him because of something so senseless," she said.
Her grief is mixed with anger at the tragedy that took her son's life.
Officer Mendoza was traveling home after work when he was struck by a wrong-way driver.
"He leaves this dangerous job and goes home and that's when something like this happens to him. I don't understand how somebody can drive the wrong way on a freeway for 35 miles and not be stopped. I don't get it." she said.
Still, she said protecting communities and wearing a police badge was his calling.
"He knew from the time he was 14 that he was going to be a police officer," she said.
And he deeply cared about his job, his officers and his community.
"I've thought so many times today when I look at pictures of him and just, reliving that laugh that I heard yesterday and the hugs and the 'I love you Mom'. That's what I'm going to miss," she said.