ABOVE: Global’s Mark Carcasole reports live from the scene of a fatal crash which claimed the life of a Niagara police officer
TORONTO – The Niagara Regional Police force is mourning the loss of one of their own after an off-duty officer was killed in a motorcycle collision in Welland early Friday morning.
Police say 33-year-old Constable Joe Mellen was traveling home on his motorcycle from a night shift in Niagara Falls when he somehow collided with an oncoming vehicle around 5 a.m. on Highway 406 at Woodlawn Road.
“It appears the vehicle came in contact head on,” said OPP Sergeant Kerry Schmidt.
“The rider of motorcycle was ejected from the motorcycle, struck the car, and sustained fatal injuries.”
Police say the female driver of the vehicle was airlifted to hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.
“It’s very tragic right now,” Sgt. Schmidt told reporters on scene. “Any fatal collision is very somber and because it is an off-duty officer, it hits home for any officer dealing with fatalities like this.”
Niagara Police Chief Jeff McGuire remembers Cst. Mellen as a “good cop” and a “hard-working civil servant.”
“Very fun guy to be around,” Chief McGuire told reporters outside Niagara police headquarters Friday morning. “The impact on our members will be great.”
Cst. Mellen joined the police force as a cadet in 2004 and friends describe him as a “wannabe actor, musician and comedian.”
Detective Sergeant Clifford Priest, the president of the Niagara Police Association, told Global News Cst. Mellen was extremely well liked in his community.
“He helped out with kids events, charity events, just an all around popular guy,” the Det. Sgt. said.
“He had a great sense of humour. He was able to help a lot of his colleagues get through dark times.”
Det. Sgt. Priest said the officers who first responded on the scene knew Mellen well.
“It was our officers that discovered it was a friend that had been killed in the collision.”
The officer leaves behind two children, aged 5 and 7. He was divorced.
Ontario Provincial Police say they are investigating the cause of the fatal crash and are asking any member of the public who may have witnessed the incident to come forward.
Highway 406 between East Main and Woodlawn was closed for several hours during the police reconstruction but it was fully reopened at 10 a.m.
Several police officers and emergency responders from jurisdictions across Ontario have offered their condolences on Twitter.