July 25, 2012
Officer in Niagara Gorge fall identified
By Dan Dakin, QMI Agency
NIAGARA FALLS, ONT. - Police have identified the officer who suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries after he fell into the Niagara Gorge Tuesday while chasing a suspect.
Const. Jacob Smits underwent emergency surgery Wednesday morning for a broken femur, said spokesman Const. Derek Watson.
Smits was in a foot chase with 18-year-old Ryan Dube when the two fell over a waist-high concrete wall that separates the sidewalk from the steep rocky cliffs of the gorge.
Dube, who was a troubled young man trying to straighten his life out, was pronounced dead at the scene.
JoAnne Turner, the executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Niagara, confirmed Dube was a resident of that agency's Nightlight Youth Residence.
“He was well-known to the staff and well-liked,” Turner said. “He had been there on and off since 2011.”
She said he was a short-term resident at the group home, staying for less than 30 days at a time.
“The whole time he was there, there were no issues of violence whatsoever,” Turner said. “He did have some issues with curfew on occasion, but he had goals and was aiming toward those goals."
She said Dube was on probation and wasn't enrolled in school but was looking for work as he tried to get his life in order.
“The staff had just worked with him last week to put out resumes,” she said.
Alexandra Essert, who said she was a former girlfriend of Dube's, described him as a “good kid.”
“I've known him a really long time. I grew up with him in group homes,” she said. “He would bend over backwards for people. He wasn't a bad kid at all, he just went through some stuff."
Paul DiSimoni, president of the Niagara Regional Police Association, said even though Watson is going to be OK, any incident like this will have an effect on the force.
"It certainly brings an element of humanity to the entire circumstance. You just never know when things will happen or what (situation) you will find yourself in," he said. "It's a sobering experience."
DiSimoni said the service and the association will pull together in a "family effort" to help the injured officer and his family.
He said he doesn't believe the injury to be a career-ending and expects to see Smits back on duty in the future.
"We're hoping and expecting he will make a full recovery and return to front-line duty," he said.
The province's Special Investigations Unit is handling the case. It investigates cases of death and serious injury involving police.
--with files from Dan Dakin