RCMP mourn­ing loss of Amherst of­fi­cer

Desch­enes killed while help­ing stranded mo­torist in Mem­ram­cook, N.B.

The Amherst News - - FRONT PAGE - By Dar­rell Cole dar­rell.cole@amher­st­news.ca Twit­ter: @ADN­dar­rell

Mike John­son is crest­fallen at the loss of his friend, Const. Fran­cis Desch­enes. But he’s not sur­prised he lost his life help­ing some­one else.

“That’s who Frank was,” John­son, a re­tired RCMP of­fi­cer, said Wed­nes­day. “Frank was ex­tremely help­ful and con­cerned about peo­ple who needed help. That was his un­der­ly­ing rea­son for be­ing in the RCMP and last night was one of those times when he stopped to help some­one. It was or­di­nary for him.”

The 35-year-old mem­ber of RCMP North­west Traf­fic Ser­vices-Amherst was killed Tues­day evening when he was struck and killed by a util­ity van while help­ing a pair of mo­torists change a tire on their sport util­ity ve­hi­cle on the Trans-Canada High­way in Mem­ram­cook, N.B.

He was pro­nounced dead at the scene while the two mo­torists he was as­sist­ing were treated and re­leased from hos­pi­tal. The driver of the util­ity van was treated at the scene and taken into cus­tody.

Desch­enes was re­cip­i­ent of the Queen’s Di­a­mond Ju­bilee Medal in 2013 and a for­mer mem­ber of the RCMP’s Mu­si­cal Ride.

Nova Sco­tia RCMP Com­mand­ing Of­fi­cer, As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Brian Bren­nan said couldn’t give fur­ther de­tails into

the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and said it’s too early to de­ter­mine if, and when, charges will be laid.

He said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is be­ing con­ducted by RCMP in New Brunswick.

“It is ex­tremely chal­leng­ing to de­scribe what it feels like when we lose one of our own,” Bren­nan told a press con­fer­ence Wed­nes­day. “In the RCMP, we are a fam­ily and every em­ployee in Nova Sco­tia and across the coun­try is im­pacted by the loss of Fran­cis.”

John­son, who re­tired from the RCMP in 2011 and is now Cum­ber­land County’s EMO man­ager, said he en­coun­tered Desch­enes many times on the job when he was in the RCMP.

That re­la­tion­ship was rekin­dled af­ter John­son’s re­tire­ment from the force when Desch­enes trans­ferred to Amherst and joined the De­fend­ers Mo­tor­cyle Club.

“We’ve rid­den to­gether and laughed, and we’ve planned and worked on a num­ber of projects both pro­fes­sion­ally and pri­vately. Frank is go­ing to be a huge loss to the com­mu­nity, the force, the RCMP and the De­fend­ers Mo­tor­cy­cle Club,” John­son said.

He de­scribed his friend as a gen­uine in­di­vid­ual with a pro­found

un­der­stand­ing of what was right and wrong. But, John­son said, he was also a very com­pas­sion­ate in­di­vid­ual.

John­son said it’s go­ing to take a long time for Desch­enes’ fel­low of­fi­cers and friends to come to grips with what hap­pened.

“Words es­cape me at the void that ex­ists and how we’re go­ing to fill his shoes,” John­son said. “Many of us are numb deal­ing the loss. Some of us have been in shock and our thoughts of Frank are still so fresh in our minds that it’s hard to ac­cept that he’s not here with us. There have been a lot of tears shed in this of­fice, not only among peo­ple in uni­form but among peo­ple in the com­mu­nity who have come in and peo­ple who knew Frank.”

Dave Mathieson – Amherst News

As­sis­tant Com­mis­sion Brian Bren­nan, com­mand­ing of­fi­cer of RCMP in Nova Sco­tia, speaks to the me­dia on Wed­nes­day fol­low­ing the death of 12-year vet­eran RCMP of­fi­cer Const. Frank Desch­enes.

Const. Fran­cis Desch­enes

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