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Officer killed in roadside crash remembered as dedicated RCMP constable
The reality of the death of Const. Frank Deschenes is still sinking in among friends, family and the RCMP community.
Const. Deschenes was nearing the end of his shift, returning to Amherst, N.S., from New Brunswick, when he stopped to help two people in an SUV change a tire Tuesday evening. His vehicle was struck from behind by a utility van.
He died at the scene.
Bill Digdon met Const. Deschenes when he joined the Defenders Motorcycle Club in Amherst four years ago.
“There are people in your life that you meet that really for me on a very strong bond,” says Digdon. “In a very short time, Frank was one of those guys.”
Randy Thurber also knew Const. Deschenes from the motorcycle club, and they recently completed a trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, together. But his fondest memory of his friend came earlier this year.
“I saw these lights come on behind me and I thought, ‘What have I done? I'm not speeding. Maybe they're going to check for inspection.’ You always get nervous when you get pulled over. So I pull over and the officer comes and it's Frank, and he puts his head in the window and he says, “I thought this would be a fun way to give you your wedding invitation,’” says Thurber.
His friends say Const. Deschenes always had a unique way of doing things. Back in 2008, he used his police cruiser to push another vehicle off the tracks moments before a train passed.
“I looked over my shoulder and saw the train coming. I thought I had time to get the car off the tracks,” Const. Deschenes told CTV News in 2008.
Deschenes was born in northern New Brunswick and was a 12-year veteran of the RCMP. In 2013, he was awarded the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal, which recognizes significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.
The Amherst Police Department works closely with the RCMP.
Chief Ian Naylor says his officers are mourning the loss of Const. Deschenes.
“First you're in shock. You kind of feel empty and you just feel helpless,” says Naylor. “Every police officer that went to work the day after that tragedy, when they gave their loved ones that hug and kiss, when they say goodbye to them in the morning, it had a lot more purpose. A lot more meaning to it.”
While friends grieve, the New Brunswick RCMP continue to investigate the crash that killed the 35-year-old officer.
Police would like to speak to any motorists who saw a dark blue dodge cargo van with Pennsylvania licence plate ZBN 8883 travelling eastbound on the Trans-Canada Highway between Moncton and Memramcook Tuesday night.
The male driver of the vehicle was taken into police custody, but was later released on conditions set by the court.
The RCMP say they have spoken to several witnesses, but charges have not been laid.
Anyone with information on the crash is asked to contact New Brunswick RCMP or Crime Stoppers.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jonathan MacInnis.