A Thunder Bay police officer has died while away at a K-9 training exercise near Gravenhurst, Ont.
Police say Const. Joseph [Joe] Prevett, 50, collapsed at about 10:45 a.m. ET Wednesday while participating in an Ontario Provincial Police training course with his new police service dog, Timber. Prevett was rushed to hospital in medical distress and died a short time later.
'You can't pass anybody in this building and not hear them say only positive things about Joe … Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.'- JP Levesque, Thunder Bay police Chief
The Ministry of Labour and the Ontario Provincial Police are investigating the death.
Thunder Bay police made the announcement with "profound sadness" in a news release Wednesday afternoon.
Prevett was a police service dog handler with the police service's Emergency Task Unit. He joined the Thunder Bay Police Service in 2003 and began his policing career in 1998 with Peel Regional Police.
"Constable Prevett was a valued member of the Thunder Bay Police Service," the news release said. "He will be sadly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing and serving with him."
At a news conference at police headquarters, Chief JP Levesque paid tribute to the officer. "You can't pass anybody in this building and not hear them say only positive things about Joe … Our thoughts and prayers are with the family."
Both Premier Kathleen Wynne and Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath expressed their condolences on Wednesday.
"We take great pride in the service and sacrifice of our first responders," Wynne said in a statement.
"Constable Prevette is just one of thousands of heroes in life, who go to work every day to make Ontario communities safe."
Horwath echoed that sentiment, saying: "The death of Constable Prevett is reminder that the work done by police is rarely easy, even during training exercises. I know the community of Thunder Bay will rally around Constable Prevett’s family and colleagues, to support them in this difficult time.”
Prevett leaves behind a wife and family.
Funeral arrangements are pending. A special Facebook page will be set up by the Thunder Bay Police Service to receive condolences and provide information for funeral/memorial arrangements.