HAMILTON, Ont. -- Staff-Sgt. Ian Matthews helped countless people overcome their darkest hour during his 25-year career.
Sadly, in his own time of need, the veteran Hamilton cop found himself alone, apparently in a locker room at police headquarters, with no one to help.
As his family and fellow officers struggle to understand how he died, one woman wants his loved ones to know her family is grateful for how he lived.
"The support he gave us when we felt as though nobody could understand our pain was immeasurable, not only as an officer but as a citizen," Shaylah Lukas said Wednesday.
Her family was devastated when her brother Josh, 19, was killed in a house fire along with a woman, 22, and her three little girls in 2008.
But Matthews was there for them in the aftermath of the tragedy.
"To put somebody at ease during a time of mourning is nearly impossible," Lukas said, adding Matthews was "one of the most comforting souls we encountered.
"There are no words to articulate the affect he had on our family."
However, as Lukas pointed out, such experiences would surely have taken a toll on the officer.
"The tragedies he witnessed and the pain he took on as his own are beyond selfless," she said. "I am grateful that he touched our lives just as he certainly did many others."
Matthews was rushed to hospital around 1 p.m. Tuesday after suffering a gunshot wound at Central Station.
Hamilton Police made it clear almost immediately that the officer was not expected to survive. He died around 10 p.m.
"This is devastating and I recognize the profound impact this has on our organization," Chief Glenn De Caire said, adding the service is doing all it can to support Matthews' family.