Fallen Mounties remembered, names added to memorial

A veteran Mountie who died during the January earthquake in Haiti and a young Mountie, hoping to make a difference in the world, were among four officers honoured Sunday at the RCMP’s national memorial service.

RCMP Commissioner William Elliott

RCMP Commissioner William Elliott

REGINA — A veteran Mountie who died during the January earthquake in Haiti and a young Mountie, hoping to make a difference in the world, were among four officers honoured Sunday at the RCMP’s national memorial service.

Mounties stood solemnly by in red serge and family members dabbed at tears in their eyes, as the names of Chief Supt. Douglas Coates and Const. Chelsey Robinson were added to the cenotaph at the RCMP training academy in Regina.

Coates, 57, was a member of the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti. He had been a Mountie since 1978.

Coates’s son, Canadian Armed Forces Capt. Luc Coates, said it was an emotional ceremony but he’s happy that his dad will be remembered forever.

“I’m very glad that people will be walking by his name and thinking about him,” said Coates.

“I’m very proud of the work that he accomplished.

“My father’s life mission was to make the world a better place.”

Coates’s name is next to that of Sgt. Mark Gallagher, who also died in the quake in Haiti.

They were the first officers in the history of RCMP involvement in peacekeeping missions to be killed in action.

RCMP Commissioner William Elliott, who was at the service Sunday, said he travelled to Haiti twice with Coates.

“So that was especially difficult for me personally, his loss,” said Elliott.

“Unfortunately a number of the officers that are on the wall I only know from hearing about or from reading about or certainly since I’ve been commissioner, meeting the families of those members. But Doug I was privileged to work directly with and … I certainly felt his loss in a much more personal way.”

The service also honoured Const. Norman Atkins who died in a police car collision near Finnegans Hill, N.B., in July 1995.

Like Atkins, Robinson was also killed in a crash. Robinson, 25, had been on the job just seven months when her police vehicle collided with a semi trailer on a highway west of Edmonton last June.

Dave Lutterotti, Robinson’s brother-in-law, praised the RCMP for the way it has reached out to his grieving family. Lutterotti choked back tears Sunday.

“It’s pretty overwhelming right now. Actually, I didn’t think I’d choke up but it’s absolutely beautiful, total class act. Just very overwhelming right, it really is,” said Lutterotti. “There’s no words that I can explain what myself or our family is going through right now … but we are so very proud of Chelsey.”

“She was the type of person that all she wanted to do was help, like just save-the-world type mentality.”