Surrey RCMP Const. Adrian Oliver, who was killed in a head-on automobile crash Tuesday morning, is the fifth Surrey Mountie to die while on duty since the force began policing this city in 1951.
Oliver, 28, was heading back to the detachment headquarters near the end of his shift just before 5 a.m. when the unmarked police car he was driving crashed with a semi truck at 148th Street and 64th Avenue.
The crash demolished the front end of the police car. The truck driver sustained minor injuries.
According to the Vancouver Sun, the truck's driver, identified as Surrey resident Harjeet Loty, told a reporter that the Mountie had signalled to turn but "came straight on."
"That's the confusion," he told the Sun. "He just hit me."
Oliver had been with the Surrey RCMP for three and a half years as a general duty officer with C Watch.
His identical twin brother, Benjamin, is a constable with the Burnaby RCMP.
Funeral arrangements hadn't been made by press time. Two Mounties will stand guard over his body 24/7, until it is laid to rest. Surrey RCMP Cpl. Bert Paquet said it's called an "honour guard vigil."
"We have a history of doing that for fallen members," he explained. "We've lost one of our brothers."
Meantime, the Surrey RCMP traffic section is investigating the crash, with the Vancouver police department "simply providing the oversight," Paquet said.
"I think it ensures transparency and neutrality in our investigation," he said.
It's a "very complex investigation," he added.
Part of the investigation involves electronic data being downloaded from both vehicles.
Members of Oliver's family have visited the crash site and people are leaving flowers and sympathy cards at the detachment.
"It's such a tragedy, it's terrible," said Oliver's uncle Roland Gebhard, from Kingston, Ont.
"As his uncle, I can say that Adrian was an exceptional person. He had this great smile that would go almost from ear to ear. We spent a lot of time together during the summers on camping trips and fishing along with my children, who are also devastated by this tragedy.
"The entire Gebhard family is devastated and saddened by the loss of one of our loved ones."
Oliver was unmarried and did not have children.
Gebhard said Oliver's dad, Erwin Gebhard, lives in Williams Lake, where the twins lived until they were four.
Their mother and stepfather, Chief Supt. Joe Oliver, raised the boys in Ottawa, where the senior Mountie serves as director-general of border integrity.
"Erwin had always kept in touch with his children and loved them so much," Gebhard said. "He was very proud of all their accomplishments and was very happy when they both returned to B.C. in their new roles in the RCMP."
Hours after the fatal crash, senior Mounties here in B.C. paid their respects. Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens, commanding officer for the RCMP in B.C., and Chief Supt. Bill Fordy, in charge of the Surrey detachment, spoke at a press conference in the central atrium of the Surrey detachment Tuesday morning, in front of the Wall of Honour.
The wall was set up in 2006, in memory of four Mounties who died while on duty in Surrey.
Const. Archille Octave Maxime Lepine was killed in a traffic collision in 1962, when his motorcycle crashed with a car on King George Boulevard (called King George Highway at the time).
In 1974, Const. Roger Emile Pierlet was shot dead after stopping a suspicious-looking car in Cloverdale. He was working his last shift before he was going to take time off to get married. Two men were sentenced to life in prison for the shooting, after their death sentences were commuted.
Later in 1974, Const. John Terrance Draginda was killed in a traffic collision in Guildford, while responding to a call about another crash. Draginda and two other people in the other car were killed.
In 1975, Const. John Brian Baldwinson died when his patrol car collided with a horse along the Pacific Highway.
Callens noted that Oliver began his training as an RCMP cadet in 2008 and first reported for duty on June 1, 2009.
"As Commanding Officer I can tell you that these incidents are truly among the most difficult we have to deal with," Callens said of Oliver's death.
"Each day throughout this province and country, families of police officers see their loved ones off to work, to serve their communities," he noted.
"For most of these families, their loved ones return home safely at the end of their shift as expected. Today, Const. Oliver set out to fulfill that commitment to duty and service when he was taken from us in a tragic and untimely manner."
Fordy said Oliver was "an outstanding police officer, with a great attitude and commitment to serve others."
"He was part of an extended RCMP family and he will be missed," Fordy said.
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