Thunder Bay K9 officer collapses, dies training in Gravenhurst Wednesday morning
By Mark Clairmont
GRAVENHURST — Police raced one of their own to hospital late this morning in a screaming cortège of cop cars.
Officers rushed out to Loon Lake Road just before 11 a.m. for what a police supervisor on the scene called a “medical distress” emergency involving a male canine officer, confirmed OPP Sergeant Peter Leon.
A Thunder Bay police officer collapsed in the field and was pronouced dead at South Muskoka Memorial Hospital in Bracebridge.
After racing the officer into the emergency department, a police officer outside SouthMuskokaMemorialHospital asked for privacy.
“This is very serious to us, he told MuskokaTODAILY.
“Officers may do something they don’t want to be seen and they don’t want to see cameras.”
One officer in canine uniform was leaning on his police truck, while another was walking his dog in the grass next to the ER parking lot.
Back in Gravenhurst, just after noon, a police officer in green canine working garb and three officers in dark blue uniforms combed a large clear farm field at the intersection of Musquash Road and Loon Lake Road just, off Hwy. 169 in west Gravenhurst.
Four police vehicles were parked along Loon Lake Road, including a Thunder Bay K9 SUV, a large white van and two black police SUVs and a police motorcycle.
There was no other police presence. Several other police vehicles and officers who had responded to the call were seen leaving the Gravenhurst area.
Neighbours, including one whose house backs onto the farm property, were unaware of what was going on and didn’t hear anything.
They said it’s not uncommon to see police canine teams out training in their backyard and on the adjacent roads.
The incident appears to have begun about 10:30 a.m.
Police cars raced through the downtown intersection at the post office just before 11 a.m.
Tiny Stuart, who lives on Bay Street, said she saw three “police cars” and a police motorcycle go by her home at a high speed and past the MuskokaWharf.
A fifth police SUV followed a few minutes later.
“It can’t be far,” said a Jack York, who was across the street raking sand off the boulevard.
About 20 minutes later, four police SUVs and the motorcycle raced back up Bay Street escorting an ambulance.
Another EMS vehichle proceeded them up the street just a few minutes earlier at a slower speed, but had two paramedics in the front seat.
On the Muskoka Road main street, other police were ahead of the motorcade blocking intersections, as the five emergency vehicles raced up Hwy. 11 to SMMH.
An OPP statement at 2:30 p.m. said:
“This morning at approximately 10:45 am, officers from the Bracebridge Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) responded to a report of an incident in the area of Loon Lake Road in the Town of Gravenhurst.
“A preliminary investigation has identified that a Canine Officer, who was participating in a training exercise, collapsed and was rushed to hospital in medical distress.
“It is with profound sadness, that the officer has since been pronounced deceased. The OPP can confirm that the officer is not a member of the OPP, but is a serving member of the Thunder Bay Police Service.
“The Ministry of Labour has been notified and is also investigating.”
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