Death of York constable has left wife 'in pieces'
Published Tuesday, July 5, 2011 8:01PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 5:15AM EDT
The wife of an Ontario police officer who was killed in the line of duty last week said the loss has left her "in pieces," but promised to continue on for the sake of their children.
"We always told each other ‘I love you to bits and pieces,' and that has never been more true," Melissa Styles said in a eulogy on Tuesday. "Right now I am in pieces, but I will put myself back together for our children because I know that is what you would want me to do."
The tearful eulogy came near during a massive memorial service for York Regional Police Const. Garrett Styles in Newmarket, Ont., on Tuesday. Styles died last week after being pinned underneath a minivan he had pulled over.
The 32-year-old officer left behind his wife Melissa and their two young children, 10-week-old son Nolan and 2 1/2-year-old daughter Meredith.
"The greatest gift you ever gave me was our two beautiful children," Melissa said, reading from a letter in front of thousands of friends and colleagues. "Thank you so much for making me a mother and giving me something to hold on to now that you are gone.
"They will be reminded every day how much you loved them. You will be their first thought in the morning and their last thought at night."
Thousands of police officers and emergency workers from across North America gathered to commemorate the life of Const. Styles, remembering him as a dedicated officer and natural leader.
York region Police Chief Eric Jolliffe said Styles had always wanted to follow in his father's footsteps by joining the police department, as evidenced by his childhood wagon emblazoned with the colours of the York police force.
"His peers described Garrett as a thinker, someone who could see things clearly, take action and get the job done," said Jolliffe told the crowd of thousands gathered at the Ray Twinney Complex. "He was consistently at the top of every category of his evaluation.
He was a team player, level-headed in the face of adversity, patient, respected, considerate, committed, and quietly confident."
Jolliffe said Styles' most heroic act was not the day he died, but the day he joined the police force.
Premier Dalton McGuinty, who spoke on request of Styles' family, thanked the officer for his strength of character.
"Garrett Styles was a good officer, a good husband, a good father and a good man," he said. "He was courageous and compassionate. A man who took action and who did the right things for the right reasons."
McGuinty said the responsibility of upholding Styles' memory now rests with the community and all of Ontario.
Styles, who would have celebrated his 33rd birthday on Sunday, was killed on the morning of June 28 after being struck and pinned underneath a minivan during a traffic stop outside of Newmarket.
He leaves behind his wife and two young children, two-year-old Meredith and 10-week-old Nolan.
A 15-year-old boy has been charged with first-degree murder in the officer's death. He is due in court on Thursday.
Procession fills streets
Before the service, a sea of men and women, many dressed in the blue uniforms of local police force and bright red Serge of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, marched in unison as the funeral procession made its way through the streets of Newmarket.
A hearse leading the funeral procession arrived at the Ray Twinney Complex shortly after noon, accompanied by six pallbearers, all police officers from different regions.
Accompanied by the York police pipe band, the funeral procession marched along Yonge Street, south from Davis Drive to Eagle Street, as hundreds of civilians lined the streets in a show of respect.
Small children spotted along the procession route carried signs reading," Thank you Styles family."
Maddie Dimuccio, a Newmarket town councillor, brought her children to the procession to pay respects to the fallen officer.
"The most important reason is to have my children come out and see how a split-second decision and poor judgment can change the lives of so many people," Dimuccio said.
"It's also important to come out and pay respects and tribute to a man who has sacrificed his life."
Law enforcement officers were joined by emergency workers and members of the Canadian Armed Forces in the procession to the local community centre ahead of the massive funeral
The arena had already been packed to capacity by early Tuesday afternoon, with hundreds more gathered outside set to watch the ceremony on a large TV screen.
Paying tribute to a brother
John Miskiw, president of the York Regional Police Association, told Canada AM on Tuesday morning that having so many officers from across North America is a great tribute to the 32-year-old father of two who died in the line of duty last week.
Describing Styles as "a fine, all around young man, an up-and-coming police officer," Miskiw said the young constable was "well respected by his peers."
"We recognized his future to come so we're very sad indeed to see him go at such a young age," Miskiw told CTV's Canada AM early Tuesday.
On Monday, hundreds of people attended the public visitation in Thornhill, Ont. where Styles' family watched as two police officers placed a flag, hat and gloves over the casket -– a ritual reserved for those who fall in the line of duty.
With files from The Canadian Press and CTV Toronto's Tamara Cherry