Condolences pour in for Mountie killed in Haiti quake
Family, friends and colleagues of an RCMP officer from the Maritimes killed in a massive earthquake in Haiti were mourning his death on Friday.
The body of Sgt. Mark Gallagher was discovered Thursday afternoon in the rubble left by Tuesday's quake. He had been training local police officers in Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital, as part of a United Nations mission called Project Co-ordination.
Gallagher, 50, worked as an RCMP spokesman in New Brunswick and most recently in Halifax before heading to Haiti in July 2009.
On Friday, tributes were pouring in for the popular police officer. The RCMP has set up books of condolences at various locations in both provinces, said spokeswoman Chantal Farrah.
"People from the community and people that know Mark will be able to come over and write their thoughts in those books," said Farrah.
Comments written in the books and posted on internet reports about Gallagher's death describe him as a hero and an outstanding family man.
Gallagher's widow, Lisa Gallagher, said the outpouring of support from people who knew her husband well, casual acquaintances and complete strangers overwhelms her.
"I wouldn't be truthful if I said I was surprised because in essence, Mark was kindness personified," she told reporters late Friday from her home in Northampton, N.B., near Woodstock.
"It didn't matter how busy Mark was, it didn't matter what he had on his plate, if someone called him looking for help, he was there. He was always there for us and he was there for others, to the extent that he could be."
His desire to help others was what took him to Haiti in the first place, she said of her husband of 30 years.
In a prepared statement, Gallagher's wife and grown children, Heather and Shane, said they will spend the next several days planning how to celebrate his life. "Those details will be provided to you through the RCMP," it said.
Officers gathered at the J Division headquarters in Fredericton on Friday to remember their fallen colleague, said RCMP Assistant Commissioner Wayne Lang.
"Our chaplain, Father Karl Ingersoll, led us in prayer, and so now, I think it's important that we keep his memory alive," Lang said. "People have lots of good memories of Mark, and it's important that we support each other and that we support his family."
Gallagher was last based in Nova Scotia, where he acted as the RCMP spokesman for Halifax and the New Brunswick cities of Moncton and Bathurst.
He planned to resume work with the force in April, based in Northampton, with his wife.
Gallagher had come home for Christmas and had just returned to Haiti when the 7.0-magnitude quake struck.
In New Brunswick, condolence books are located at J Division headquarters in Fredericton, the Codiac office in Moncton, and RCMP detachments in Belledune, Bathurst, Dalhousie, Campbellton and Woodstock.
An online condolence book has also been established.
Gallagher was one of 82 police officers from Canada on the UN mission.
Arrangements are being made to return his body to Canada.
Another Mountie, Supt. Doug Coates, of Ottawa, is still missing.