Monument honours fallen Surrey RCMP officers

NEWTON — Canada’s largest RCMP detachment unveiled a new monument in Surrey Friday morning to honour local Mounties who have lost their lives while on duty.

The monument, at the entrance of the Surrey RCMP detachment building in Newton, contains the names of five constables.

Const. Archie Lepine, originally from Saskatchewan, was posted to the Pattullo Bridge detachment in July 1960. He died July 19, 1962, after his motorcycle collided with a delivery truck on what was then called King George Highway.

Const. Roger Pierlet hailed from Montreal. He was posted to the Cloverdale detachment. On March 29, 1974, while working what was supposed to be his last shift before he was to get married, he was shot dead after stopping a car in Cloverdale.

The two killers were originally sentenced to death, but these were commuted to life sentences after capital punishment was abolished in Canada in 1976. An overpass in Cloverdale is named after Pierlet, in his honor.

Const. John Terry Draginda was born in the Northwest Territories. On Sept. 29, 1974, Draginda was responding to serious motorcycle crash at 152nd Street and 96th Avenue when his patrol car collided with another vehicle, and as a result he and two people in the other car lost their lives. He is buried in Edmonton.

Const. John Baldwinson, born in Gimli, Manitoba, was an outstanding athlete. He died on Oct. 28, 1975, when his patrol car collided with a horse that had wandered onto the roadway late that night.

Most recently, Const. Adrian Oliver was killed on Nov. 13, 2012, when his patrol car collided with a truck at the intersection of 64th Avenue and 148th Street. The annual Adrian Oliver Memorial Run is in Burnaby tomorrow (Nov. 15).

RCMP brass and families of the fallen officers attended the consecration ceremony of the large stone memorial.

"It’s customary for cultures and societies to set up stones of remembrance," said RCMP Chaplain Jim Turner. "Oftentimes those stones of remembrance are boundaries. They say ‘Go here, and no further.’ This will serve as a lasting remembrance that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Surrey maintain the right, and they are a boundary against all manner of disorder.

"Those stones of remembrance are not without great cost. They’re also a reminder of the price that’s paid. Ensuring safe homes and safe communities, there’s an incredibly high price that’s paid. First, by those members who have lost their lives in the line of duty, and then by the families who have lost loved ones and continue to pay the price in grief and sorrow over loss."

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts helped unveil the memorial.

"As we unveil this dedication I know that in many times, in many moments, it will be a place of solace for families and members to come and pay their tribute and think about the ultimate sacrifice that these fallen officers have given," Watts said.

Assistant RCMP Commissioner Dan Malo called it a "timeless memorial.

"They have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of the City of Surrey, the province of British Columbia and Canada," he said. "As the years go on, the memories of each officer will live on here today and forever. They are not forgotten and will never be forgotten."

Chief Supt. Bill Fordy, in charge of the Surrey detachment, said it was an honour to pay tribute to his fellow Mounties.

"I’m grateful for their commitment to this city. There are, sadly, some of those that lose their lives while doing this job. Their families, some of whom are here today, feel the pain of their losses every day. This public memorial is a small way for us to honour those men, and to honor their families."

Ves Vukovic, founder of Stonemarks in South Surrey, built the monument. He’s originally from Serbia, and said his family has been in the monument-building business for 450 years and that he began this project for the RCMP roughly two years ago.

Friday’s unveiling was a proud moment, he said. "Very proud, very proud."

tzytaruk@thenownewspaper.com

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