Willowbrook Park Memorial

On March 13, 2024, the unveiling of the Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller Memorial at Willowbrook County Park was held in Aptos honoring fallen Santa Cruz County Sheriff, Sergeant Damon Gutzwiller, who died in the line of duty on June 6, 2020.

Sergeant Gutzwiller grew up in Santa Cruz County and lived in the neighborhood near Willowbrook Park which he frequented with his young family and dog. The Willowbrook Memorial is a peaceful place for the Sergeant’s family and community to visit, remember, and reflect. The Memorial will forever enshrine Sergeant Gutzwiller’s sacrifice.

SSA Landscape Architects were selected by Santa Cruz County Parks to design the Memorial at Willowbrook Park. SSA Landscape Architects and the County worked in close collaboration with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, Santa Cruz Deputy Sheriff’s Association, County Park Friends and Supervisor Zach Friend to obtain funding for the project. Community fundraising also provided funding for a portion of the project.

SSA designed and provided construction documents and construction administration for the Memorial seating and Flagpole entry area. The Memorial seating includes custom bronze footprint inlays of the Sergeant and his family, boulders hand selected and placed under the direction of Steve Sutherland from the Sierra Nevada’s (a place Damon and his family loved to visit), with several bronze plaques, custom engraved bricks, granite pavers, and a custom precast concrete bench with redwood backrest. The construction team was led by Tom Ralston, President of Tom Ralston Concrete Company and included Paul Neal of Concrete Craftsmen providing the precast bench and redwood back rest; Ralph Russo of Russo Masonry installing the donor bricks and granite panels as well as the Bronze Plaques and K&D Landscape installing the irrigation and planting.

The Flagpole area marks the entry to Willowbrook Park and Memorial seating, along with new park signage and boulders with several memorial plaques. The renovated playground features new play equipment, and new poured-in-place rubber surfacing.

Willowbrook Memorial Opening