RCMP of­fi­cer’s death a tragic loss

Journal Pioneer - - EDITORIAL -

Let’s make time to­day, let’s take a se­ri­ous pause from what we are do­ing, to re­mem­ber and to be grate­ful to a brave and thought­ful young Moun­tie who trag­i­cally died on a New Brunswick high­way Tues­day while help­ing two stranded mo­torists change a tire. Const. Frank Desch­enes, 35, of the RCMP’s North­west Traf­fic Ser­vice unit in Amherst, N.S., died along­side the Trans Canada High­way near Mem­ram­cook, af­ter he and his pulled-over cruiser were struck by a util­ity van.

Const. Desch­enes had stopped along the busy route to help two mo­torists deal with a flat tire. The two mo­torists were treated and re­leased from hos­pi­tal.

The driver of the van was treated and taken into cus­tody. RCMP are in­ves­ti­gat­ing and have not de­ter­mined if charges will be laid.

This loss of a fine young of­fi­cer, newly wed and with a record of car­ing and even heroic com­mu­nity polic­ing is sim­ply heart-wrench­ing. Col­leagues re­called how, nine years ago, Const. Desch­enes saved the life of a 26-year-old woman and pre­vented a train de­rail­ment when he pushed her dam­aged car from tracks near Brook­field, with only 45 sec­onds to spare be­fore the train thun­dered through.

As he told The Canadian Press at the time, “I looked over my shoul­der and I could see the train com­ing, so I jumped in my car and with the po­lice car pushed her car off the track and then I backed up.”

It was a cool-headed and gutsy res­cue, a re­mark­able feat of brave polic­ing.

But help­ing peo­ple in need — “that’s who Frank was,” his friend and re­tired col­league Mike John­son told Dar­rell Cole of the Amherst News this week.

As RCMP As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Brain Bren­non ob­served, that help­ing in­stinct “speaks to the core of what polic­ing should be — in­volved in your com­mu­nity, look­ing out for peo­ple, tak­ing time to do those small things that would go a long way.”

We should be deeply grate­ful for Const. Frank Desch­enes and of­fi­cers like him. And while we’re hon­our­ing him in our thoughts, let’s all be mind­ful of the re­spon­si­bil­ity we have as driv­ers to care about oth­ers us­ing the high­ways.

Let’s be se­ri­ous about driv­ing at safe speeds, watch­ing for peo­ple work­ing along the high­way or stranded by a break­down, and keep­ing safe dis­tances from other mov­ing ve­hi­cles and from any along­side the road.

Let’s think less about the hurry we’re in to get some­where and more about what we might need to do to help some­one in distress. And for pity’s sake, let’s not en­dan­ger the lives of peo­ple like Const.

Desch­enes, who step up to be Good Samar­i­tans, and who should not pay with their lives for their gen­eros­ity and sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity.

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