There was already one funeral on Tuesday. There will be another Saturday.
The flags were at half-mast across all Toronto Police divisions in what has been a very tough week for the service. It’s never easy to have a member die on duty but it’s especially upsetting to lose two.
It’s not easy seeing a co-worker in the morning and then having to notify their family they died tragically on shift later in the day.
It happened this past week. Twice.
“Devastated,” is the word Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack used to describe the reaction of his members. “Every member I have talked to is very upset.”
It is upsetting.
Parking Enforcement Supervisor Michael Wong, badge number 65231, died last Thursday in a tragic accident.
“Mike was on a call at 5 Mariner Terrace after responding to a call from a citizen over a parking spot that had been taken,” said a fellow parking officer. “Somehow he tripped over an uneven area causing him to lose balance.”
He ended up falling backwards over six steps and landing on the back of his head.
Emergency personnel did everything they could to save him.
“There was an emergency run to St Mike’s,” said a friend.
Chief Mark Saunders rushed over there to offer support — as did McCormack.
There was nothing that could be done to help Wong whose injuries were grave.
“He never regained consciousness,” said the pal.
He was declared dead in hospital. Wong is believed to be the first ever Toronto parking enforcement officer to die in an accident on a call but Toronto Police is reviewing records just to be sure. A full colours police funeral is planned for Saturday.
“Just an amazing man,” said McCormack. “Highly respected.”
Wong joined the service on August 7, 1990 as a Parking Enforcement Officer and on March 12, 1994 he was promoted to Patrol Supervisor at Parking Enforcement East.
He put 26 years into the service and never got to see his retirement. You just never know.
Toronto Police and the parking enforcement unit were already having a terrible week.
Just two days before, on June 28, Toronto Police parking enforcement lost much loved parking enforcement officer Paul Stam, badge number #99325. He came work with his usual enthusiasm and during his shift he died of what is believed to have been a massive heart attack.
“I knew him as well and like Mike, he was a heck of guy,” said McCormack. “It’s so sad.”
Stam had 25 years with Toronto Police. He started Sept. 3, 1991 as a court officer and on June 15, 1993 became a Parking Enforcement Officer.
Both of these guys had incredible careers from helping police on calls to assisting people under medical duress to locating stolen cars. Up until this week, they were still enjoying those careers and serving the public.
“The death of any member of our Service is tragic,” said Chief Mark Saunders. “For one unit to lose two members in such a sudden way, in such a short period of time, affects everyone deeply. These men reported for work as proud members of the Service and the fact that they did not get to go home to their families is incredibly sad. The Service has offered support to their families and colleagues and, like always, we will pull together to get through this.”
In a week where Black Lives Matter Toronto seems to have more influence with the powers that be than police and when Pride Toronto is floating the idea that police officers perhaps should not be permitted in their parade anymore, it’s important to remember just how fragile and dangerous wearing the uniform can be.
Both of these men have loving families who lost somebody special. The city lost two good ones too. To their co-workers they are peers who fell while in service of the city and the Toronto Police.
“They are peace officers who died in the line of duty,” said one officer.
That’s why the flags are at half-mast.
RIP Parking Enforcement Officer Paul Stam and Parking Enforcement Supervisor Michael Wong.