Police have launched a criminal investigation into the death of an RCMP officer killed in a road crash near Victoria early Tuesday morning.
Const. Sarah Beckett, 32, was travelling in a marked police car eastbound on Goldstream Road when it was struck by a pickup truck near the intersection of Peatt Road around 3:30 a.m. PT in the suburb of Langford, B.C.
"Paramedics were on scene shortly after, and tried to revive her. However, she was pronounced deceased just after 4 a.m.," said a statement released by Chief Supt. Ray Bernoties.
"Today is a tragic and difficult day. Today we lost one of our own," he said.
Pickup driver in custody
"The driver of the other vehicle was taken to hospital for a medical assessment, but his injuries are not considered serious. He is now in police custody," said Bernoties.
"There is a criminal investigation underway, being led by the RCMP's regional general investigation section. The Saanich Police Department is investigating the circumstances surrounding the collision," he said.
No details about the collision were released and the intersection was closed for several hours for the investigation, which continues.
Eyewitness tried to help
An eyewitness told CHEK News said he saw a truck speeding past his home on Peatt Road moments before he heard the crash.
Jordan Coon said it appeared to him that Beckett may have been attempting to cut off the speeding truck before it hit her vehicle.
"At the speed he was going there was no way he was going to stop and he hit her directly on the door," he said.
He rushed to the scene and attempted to help two other officers free the drivers from their vehicles.
"They were just mangled. His truck was right on top of her. His bumper was right inside her window."
"The other officers were yelling, 'Oh my God, Sarah, Sarah, she's got kids, Get her out.'"
Coon said he saw no signs of intoxication in the pickup driver.
"I smelled absolutely no alcohol.… He didn't appear to be intoxicated."
But it was also clear to him that Beckett was unlikely to survive.
"The first thing [the pickup driver] did is he asked how the officer was doing.... And I just looked at him and my first reaction was I said, 'I'm sorry bud, I don't think she made it."
"It was tough. She was lying there inside her vehicle looking pretty peaceful, but it was pretty obvious. It breaks my heart.… She looked like an absolute angel last night. There was no bruises or anything."
Police have not confirmed any of the details in Coon's account of the crash.
Popular officer was mother of 2
Beckett, an 11-year member of the force who spent her entire career on Vancouver Island, is survived by her husband and two young children.
"This morning I met with her family, who must now start to deal with this absolute tragedy.… They ask for privacy as they grieve," said Bernoties.
"Right now Sarah's RCMP family of police officers and employees are beginning to realize the impact of Sarah's loss as well. There are tough days ahead."
"It became clear very early this morning that Const. Beckett was a very popular member of the RCMP. She has an enormous circle of loving friends."
Condolences pour in
B.C. Premier Christy Clark issued a statement after the RCMP confirmed Beckett's death.
"My thoughts are with Const. Beckett's colleagues in the RCMP, and especially with her husband and her two young children. Nothing anyone can say will ease their pain during such a dark time. In the years to come, I hope they will take comfort in the knowledge that their mother was a hero," said Clark.
"Each and every day, police officers put themselves in harm's way to keep the rest of us safe. We should all take the opportunity to thank them more often."
B.C.'s Public Safety Minister Mike Morris, who is a former senior RCMP officer, made a brief statement in the provincial legislature.
"My condolences go out to her family, her work mates and the members of the RCMP and the police in general, who provide such a great service to us. This is a tragic loss," he said.
"It's always tragic and it's happened too many times over my career. There are no words to describe it."
Acting commanding officer Sharon Woodburn said the force would be offering support services to Beckett's family and co-workers, and was also speaking with the family about their wishes for a memorial service.
News of Beckett's death triggered an outpouring of condolences on social media from the prime minister, police and others online as well
On behalf of the government, I offer my condolences to the family of RCMP Const. Sarah Beckett, who was killed today in the line of duty.— @JustinTrudeau
Heartbroken to hear about the death of an RCMP officer in #Langford. My thoughts are with her family and friends on such a dark day.— @christyclarkbc
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of @WestShoreRCMP Officer, Cst. Sarah Beckett at this most difficult time.— @RCMPAlberta