The twin brother of a Mountie killed in a car crash near Vancouver told a regimental funeral Tuesday he can only hope to be the officer and the man that his "better half" became.
Const. Ben Oliver's voice was tight with emotion as he explained how he and his brother Adrian were most of the way toward their childhood dream of becoming Mounties together and living in houses across the street from each other.
As kids, he said, "we threw other ideas around, like maybe we'd live in the same house or we'd live beside each other. But we decided we'd want our own privacy, so across the street would be just enough."
"I've often said, 'There are people the RCMP needs and there are people who need the RCMP.' In Adrian's case, the RCMP needed him.' —RCMP Chief Supt. Andrew Boland
Six months ago, Oliver said he moved in next to his brother and his brother's spouse, allowing him to spend every day with them.
"In 28 years of life, Adrian and I have only been apart for 12 months. It was always difficult for me to be away from him, but I never really missed him."
Const. Adrian Oliver, an officer with the Surrey detachment, was killed last week when his unmarked cruiser was struck by a transport truck.
Sea of red serge
Following a solemn procession, a sea of red-coated RCMP members filled an auditorium in suburban Langley, southeast of Vancouver. Also attending were politicians from all three levels of government and representatives from American and Australian police forces.
A family friend sang Sarah McLachlan's I Will Remember You, before mourners were introduced to Adrian Oliver by people who knew him best.
Chief Supt. Andrew Boland, a friend of the family who watched the twins grow up, told the funeral Ben and Adrian were born in Williams Lake, B.C. Their father Joe's career with the RCMP would take them to New Brunswick and eventually to Ottawa, the city they came to call home.
Boland said he recently saw a childhood picture of the twins dressed as Batman and Superman, foreshadowing their careers as adults, caring for people.
He said Adrian was "full of fun and laughter" with a "quirky" sense of humour who easily made friends.
As young men, the twins travelled during a brief modelling career, but they were eventually led toward the careers they dreamed of as boys. Brother Ben went off to the RCMP training headquarters in Regina first. Adrian joined him a year later.
"I've often said, 'There are people the RCMP needs and there are people who need the RCMP.' In Adrian's case, the RCMP needed him," Boland said.
"He was the true embodiment of the type of police officer every community wanted watching over them."
At the RCMP's training centre in Regina, Oliver met Const. Shelagh Mitchell, the woman he would later marry.
Mitchell, who addressed the gathering standing next to Ben Oliver, said she and Adrian knew quickly they were meant for each other.
"Adrian, your kindness inspires me to be a better person. Your goofiness reminds me to stay a kid at heart," she said, choking back tears.
"The love we share is enough to fill me for a lifetime. I will think of you every second of every day. I love you."
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson told the funeral Oliver embodied the values the RCMP holds dear, saying Oliver was a compassionate man who became a compassionate and caring police officer.
"Adrian's death ... has cut deep into our hearts," said Paulson.
"He was exactly the kind of member that makes this force the exceptional institution that it is."
Following the ceremony, the hearse carrying Oliver's casket was escorted by uniformed members and pipers as it drove between two lines of police officers from at least three countries.
As the hearse left, an RCMP helicopter flew over the procession.
Boland said the constable's remains were to be cremated.
He said about 4,200 police officers marched in the funeral, and about 6,000 people attended the ceremony while another 5,000 people watched the proceedings online.
Boland said he talked to Oliver's family after the service and they were overwhelmed by the turnout.
"The family takes considerable comfort in the support that they enjoy today with this service," he said.