A retired RCMP officer sent me a link to a heartbreaking letter published in the Toronto Police Association’s magazine, Tour of Duty which was written by the widow of Sgt. Ryan Russell who was killed in the line of duty Jan 12/11.
The Day You Dread
by Christine Russell
You never think this day would happen. Sometimes I thought about it just before falling asleep, because I was at home safe while he was out working the shifts that leave us all so vulnerable to these worrisome thoughts. But those are just silly thoughts, a last moment to ponder before drifting off.
I honestly never worried about Ryan’s job. I knew he was well trained, I knew he worked in teams, I knew he knew what he was doing out there. I admired him for being a Police Officer. I respected the job. I knew when we got married that I was marrying a cop. Marriage to a cop comes with many days, nights, weekends, holidays, and special occasions spent alone. I knew that, I got that. I also worked shifts, so we both understood the importance of making the most of our time together.
When you think about the “day” it happens, you get this visualization of sorrowful Police Officers knocking on your door to break your heart and deliver the tragic news. Unfortunately it was not that Hollywood moment, it was much worse than anything Hollywood could produce.
Ryan was on day shift January 12th. I heard him showering around 4 a.m., and as usual I fell right back asleep. I was up and out of the house by 7 a.m. I dropped off Nolan at daycare, and then began my usual drive into work. The roads were in terrible condition, so much snow and poor visibility. My SUV struggled to make it out of our neighbourhood onto Kingston Road.
I listened to the radio for updates on road conditions and accidents. I heard the news that a Police Officer had been injured by a snowplow, but thought nothing other than it must have been a vehicular collision. Finally I made it onto the Gardiner and I called Ryan and left him a message that Nolan was dropped off and the roads were terrible and I was going to be late for work. Not 5 seconds later my phone rang, blocked caller ID, I naturally assumed it was Ryan calling me back.
The voice on the other end was not Ryan though. It was his friend and colleague, Tom Steeves. I just started blabbing, telling Tom, Ryan was on day shift and he had court today, and try him on his cell. I got the awkward pauses and sighs and then Tom asked me where I was? I said I was driving to work, why? Tom said where are you exactly? I knew from that moment…I don’t know how or why, but I just knew.
Read the rest of Christine Russell’s letter here…
- Toronto Star, Feb 05/11: The Day Sgt. Russell died
- see also: Toronto Star topic: Sgt. Russell’s funeral
- VoiceofCanada, March 10/10: Condolences to family, OPP brothers/sisters of Const. Vu Pham
Mark Vandermaas, Editor