Winnipeg Police Service members have paid tribute to the Manitoba Mountie who lost his life while working Friday afternoon.
Police released a video of cruiser cars parked outside the RCMP headquarters on Portage Avenue, with their lights flashing.
Mounties in Manitoba and the nation are in mourning after a 13-year RCMP veteran, father of three teenage girls and diehard Blue Bombers fan, was killed in a head-on crash on the Perimeter Highway late Friday afternoon.
RCMP said Const. Allan Poapst, 49, was returning to the office near the end of his shift when the crash occurred. At about 4 p.m. he was driving westbound on the Perimeter, just east of Highway 7, when an eastbound pickup truck crossed the median and collided with Poapst's RCMP vehicle.
Despite the efforts of several passersby who stopped to help, Poapst, who was just five days away from completing his 13th year of service, was declared dead at the scene. The pickup truck's driver and passenger were also injured and taken to hospital. Police did not have an update on their condition as of Saturday afternoon.
To officers and staff of D Detachment in Winnipeg, the tragedy feels like a death in their own family, Manitoba's top RCMP officer said at a short but emotional media conference Saturday.
Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy's voice trembled as she described how Poapst, who graduated from his RCMP training in 2006, was a dedicated officer and "well-liked across the force." She thanked the public for their messages of condolence, which she said would be shared with Poapst's family and RCMP employees.
"We're a tight group, and it really pains us when we lose somebody from our family," said MacLatchy, who became Manitoba's top officer in February. "D Division is a branch of that family, and this is rattling.
"For myself, I've only been in Manitoba for less than a year now as a commanding officer, but these are my people. And when I lose one of my people who's in the course of doing his duty and protecting Manitobans, that upsets me. It's a tough day."
Poapst was born in Winnipeg and attended John Taylor Collegiate, according to a former classmate on Twitter. He spent all of his RCMP service in Manitoba, with postings in Portage la Prairie and Powerview as well as the Court Liaison Unit, where he was serving at the time of the crash.
He was an avid sports fan, particularly of the Winnipeg Jets and the Blue Bombers. In November, he travelled to the Grey Cup in Calgary, where he was able to watch the team win its first Grey Cup in 29 years. Photos posted on social media show Poapst joyfully hoisting the cup at a celebration event, his beard dyed blue.
Poapst also volunteered with the True North Foundation's Jets Training Academy and served as a key organizer in many police and fire department hockey tournaments, in which he also played.
RCMP and Winnipeg police continue to investigate the cause of the crash. MacLatchy could not discuss whether charges are being considered, but she noted that, at the time of the accident, road conditions on the Perimeter were "atrocious" due to a recent snowfall.
"That will all make up part of the investigation," she said.
Following news of the officer’s death late Friday, politicians and police forces across Canada offered messages of condolence, while friends offered tribute to Poapst's memory.
On Twitter, RCMP Clyde River detachment commanding officer Bryan Vaughan called Poapst the "biggest Blue Bomber and Jets fan I have ever met," while Manitoba premier Brian Pallister offered condolences to the officer's family, friends and fellow RCMP members.
"On behalf of all Manitobans, thank you for your dedication and service," Pallister wrote.
— With files from the Canadian Press
Updated on Saturday, December 14, 2019 at 4:41 PM CST: Corrects name.
5:08 PM: Adds photos.
7:53 PM: Updated
December 15, 2019 at 11:42 AM: Adds Winnipeg police tribute