TORONTO—Toronto Police Sgt. Ryan Russell is being remembered for his bravery after a man driving a stolen snow plough hit and killed the officer early Wednesday morning.
The 35-year-old father, who was promoted only six months ago, died of his injuries at St. Michael’s Hospital. Outside the hospital, Chief Bill Blair told reporters the 11-year veteran lost his life doing his job for the people of Toronto.
“This is a very tragic day for the city of Toronto and the Toronto Police Service,” said Blair.
“He was a fine police officer and a great servant to the people of Toronto. . . . This is the worst of days for the Toronto Police Service.”
Newly elected Mayor Rob Ford ordered all flags outside City Hall and at civic centres lowered to half mast. Speaking outside City Hall, he extended his condolences on behalf of City Council to the family and colleagues of Sgt. Russell.
“His bravery and service to the City of Toronto will not be forgotten,” said Ford.
“Sergeant Russell is a shining example of the men and women of our police service who put their lives on the line to protect us each day.”
Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, also spoke outside the hospital, describing Russell’s death as a “nightmare.”
“This is what can happen and we all know it. It’s the ultimate sacrifice that he has made and we’re all very proud of him.”
Fellow officers described Russell as a genuine person and dedicated professional.
“He was an inspirational character, he had an irrepressible enthusiasm and quickly gelled with the officers under his command,” said Sgt. Dale Corra.
“He went out of his way to help others and will be profoundly missed.”
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty also extended his condolences in a statement, writing that Russell’s death was a shock to all Ontarians.
“Sergeant Russell’s death is a grim reminder that we should never take the dangers of policing for granted. Those who serve never know when they may be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice,” reads the statement.
“Let us always be grateful for the courage and sacrifice of the men and women who uphold the law and keep us safe.”
The snow plough’s driver stole the truck while the operator was working with it in the Regent Park area near the Parliament and Dundas Street intersection in Toronto at around 4:15 a.m. A second officer, with the Toronto police Emergency Task Force, was reported injured in the incident.
Police and others followed the snow plough as it was driven erratically through downtown streets, striking several parked cars.
The assailant was shot by police during an arrest that followed the plough’s collision with a garbage truck at around 7:20 a.m. The assailant is reported to be in critical condition at St. Michael’s Hospital. His identity has not been released.