The flag above the West Shore RCMP detachment is at half-mast as the community continues to mourn the death of Const. Sarah Beckett after an early morning crash Tuesday.
Beckett died after her marked police cruiser, travelling east on Goldstream Avenue, was struck by a pickup truck at the intersection at Peatt Road at about 3:30 a.m. Paramedics were unable to revive her and she was pronounced dead shortly after 4 a.m.
The 32-year-old officer had been with the RCMP since 2005, serving in Port McNeill and most recently at the West Shore detachment since 2009. She also performed general duty, media relations and served with the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit. She was the mother of two young children and leaves behind a husband, mother, sister and countless friends, said RCMP Chief Superintendent Ray Bernoties, district commander for the RCMP on Vancouver Island in a statement.
RCMP Assistant Commissioner Sharon Woodburn said in a media release that the RCMP is working hard to ensure the family has all the support it needs during this extremely difficult time. Internal services have been made available to fellow officers and staff, including trauma debriefing and peer to peer support.
“As acting commander, I can tell you that these incidents are truly among the most difficult we have to deal with,” she said. “The loss of Sarah will be felt by so many. Her death impacts not just the West Shore detachment and the five municipalities and two First Nation communities it serves, but also all police and first responders in B.C. and across the country. She was a great police officer, truly dedicated to serving others.”
The driver of the pickup was arrested after being assessed for injuries. A criminal investigation is underway, led by the RCMP’s regional general investigation section. Saanich police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the collision.
The RCMP would not confirm the identity of the driver, but said the man arrested at the scene was released from custody Wednesday. He has not been charged, but the investigation is ongoing
The News Gazette spoke to retired RCMP member Mike Galbraith as he placed a bouquet of flowers upon the statue of an RCMP female member and young child outside the detachment on Atkins Avenue hours after the crash.
“I didn’t know her personally, but I feel the loss,” said Galbraith, who served for almost 23 years. “It’s devastating. We all know when we sign up that we may take a life or lose a life protecting the public. I’ve lost some friends over the years. It’s tragic when something like that happens to a young mother. She made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Langford Mayor Stew Young said the tragedy affects the entire community. “Everyone knows working for the RCMP has risks attached, but it’s the last thing you want to hear,” he said. “A young mom with two kids … It’s just so tragic.”
Young extended condolences to Beckett’s family and the RCMP on behalf of Langford council, staff and residents. “We all need to come together to help each other deal with this.”
The support from the community has been amazing, said Alison Dixon, owner of Every Blooming Thing Florist, located in the Langford Centre plaza half a block from the detachment.
“We sold out of flowers in a matter of hours; it’s been non-stop,” she said, noting that orders came in from the RCMP in the Yukon, Nanaimo and North Vancouver.
Some people who came in said although they didn’t know Beckett, they wanted to do something to show support. “The sentiment for a lot of people is that they just want to do something. It’s very encouraging to see the community respond like that. My heartfelt condolences go out to the dad and the two little ones.”
Those who wish to pass along condolences can do so here.
A candlelight walk has also been planned in Beckett’s memory for Sunday evening at 8:30 p.m. Participants will walk from the corner of Peatt Road and Goldstream Avenue down to Veteran’s Park.