Off-duty Niagara police officer killed in early morning motorcycle crash

Dan Dakin, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:44 PM ET

WELLAND, Ont. - A 33-year-old off-duty police officer was killed Friday morning when the motorcycle he was riding slammed into an oncoming car.

Niagara Regional Police Chief Jeff McGuire confirmed the victim was Const. Joe Mellen Jr., a nine-year veteran of the service, who had been heading to his home in Welland after working the nightshift at the Niagara Falls detachment when the collision occurred.

"Even though this is not an incident where the officer was performing his duties at the time of his death, he was on his way home from work and he was a proud member of the service," McGuire said during a news conference Friday morning. "He will be sorely missed by all of us and certainly by his family."

McGuire, along with Deputy Police Chief Joe Matthews, met with Mellen's family Friday morning, including his two children, aged five and seven.

Outside of his job as a police officer, Mellen spent time training in martial arts and was an entertainer.

“I've heard a lot about him wanting to be an actor, musician and comedian,” McGuire said. “He spent some time posting some things to YouTube and he wouldn't have done that if he didn't want people to see them. He had fun doing what he was doing and he worked hard as a cop.”

Mellen's YouTube account has been active for six years and has more than 50,000 views. Most of his videos are of him playing acoustic covers of popular pop songs. His last post was from May 30, when he uploaded a video of him playing the guitar and singing Sam Smith's song Stay With Me.

Ontario Provincial Police were called to the scene just before 5 a.m. after Mellen, riding his Suzuki motorcycle southbound on Hwy. 406, collided with a northbound Pontiac Sunfire being driven by a 24-year-old Welland woman.

Mellen was thrown from the bike and crashed into the Sunfire's windshield. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The female driver was the lone occupant of the car. She remained in hospital in serious but non-life-threatening condition.

"He was a great guy and fun to be around. He was always serious at the time when needed, but afterwards he could bring some light," said Cliff Priest, president of the Niagara Regional Police Association.

He said some of the officers knew it was Mellen when they arrived on scene.

"That's the hard part, when you respond to a fatal collision and it's someone you know -- a colleague and a friend."

OPP media relations officer Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said officers on the scene were offered grief counselling.

"It's very tragic. Any fatal collision is somber, and obviously because it was an off-duty officer, it hits home to every officer dealing with traffic fatalities like this," Schmidt said.

The highway was closed for about five hours and reopened in both directions around 10 a.m.

"The investigation is ongoing. Charges certainly are pending," Schmidt said.


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