RCMP officer’s death a tragic loss
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.