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Slain Officer's Last Words to EMTs: 'Thank You'

Slain Officer's Last Words to EMTs: 'Thank You'

The National Post via YellowBrix

January 11, 2010

OTTAWA – As Constable Eric Czapnik lay dying from a mortal knife wound to the throat, he spoke two final and poignant words to his paramedic rescuers.

The patrolman had been writing case notes inside his cruiser, parked outside the emergency department of The Ottawa Hospital’s Civic campus, when a man approached and attacked him with a knife.

Four paramedics, none yet publicly identified, ran from the emergency room to help. It wasn’t until a male paramedic grabbed the attacker in a headlock from behind, that they realized the assailant had a knife.

As the attacker tried to reach around and stab the male paramedic, a petite female paramedic wrestled the weapon from his hand. A second female paramedic kicked him in the groin, and all three wrestled him to the ground. Another female paramedic attended to Const. Czapnik.

As he lay dying from the random attack, Const. Czapnik, 51, uttered his last words to the paramedics, according to police sources.

“Thank you,” he said.

That his very final act was an expression of gratitude to others is a powerful testament of a man who, as his mourners heard last week, cared deeply about others and about this community.

The first police officers to arrive on the scene found the suspect restrained with Const. Czapnik’s handcuffs, sitting in the back seat of his cruiser.

None of the paramedics were physically injured. But the incident is reviving debate whether paramedics should wear body armour and possibly even carry arms of some sort.

Kevin Gregson, 43, an RCMP officer on suspension from the force since 2006, is charged with first-degree murder. His next court appearance is on Jan. 19.

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