Ottawa-area RCMP officer dead in Haiti quake
Published Saturday, January 16, 2010 6:58PM EST Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 12:44AM EDT
His work in Haiti brought him accolades from the RCMP, Canadian peacekeepers and the Queen. In the end, that country was where Ottawa-area RCMP Supt. Doug Coates served his last mission. He died in the earthquake that devasted that country on Jan. 12.
His body was found in the collapsed United Nations headquarters in Port-au-Prince, the capital city.
"At the time of his tragic death, Doug was doing what he did so well - leading an international peacekeeping operation," said RCMP commissioner William Elliott in a prepared statement.
"Doug was one of 82 Canadian police officers serving in Haiti at the time of the earthquake. These men and women chose to leave the safety and security of Canada to serve the needs of less fortunate in this very challenged part of the world."
The RCMP will repatriate the remains of Coates as well as Mark Gallagher, a fellow officer who was confirmed dead a few days ago, Elliott added.
Father of three worked in Haiti for years
Up until the last moment, his family held out hope for his safe return.
"We have definitely not given up hope for his safe return to us, and if anyone here has the strength and will and courage to survive, it's my father," said his son, Luc Coates, in a news conference to media on Friday.
Coates also leaves behind his wife, Lise, and children Julie and Mathieu.
The superintendent was a peacekeeper with experience in Haiti stretching back to 1993. He also served the country as director of international police operations in Ottawa.
At the time of his death, he was working with about 50 other officers who were mentoring Haitian police.
Established police services in island nation
According to the RCMP, Coates was well-known for serving "a varied career" that stretched across federal and international police work.
For his first decade with the federal police force, he worked with rural and First Nations communities in Alberta and moved on to specialize in search-and-rescue in the mountains.
In Ottawa, he served with the RCMP's Special Emergency Response Team and the Emergency Response Team.
His first United Nations mission to Haiti in 1993 was cut short due to security concerns, but he returned for a second mission in 1994.
Among other things, Coates opened five police stations in Grand'Anse on the western tip of the island nation -- an achievement that the RCMP says re-established security services for 800,000 residents in the area.
Other Coates achievements included:
- Managing Canadian deployments for the RCMP;
- Secondments to the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre and the Australian Police Force;
- Leading the International Police Operations Branch;
- Earning multiple awards, including the Canadian peacekeeping service medal, the Queen's Golden Jubilee medal, and an award for his work in Haiti.
Other Canadians confirmed dead on same day
Coates is the eighth confirmed Canadian death in the country. Earlier on Saturday, the Canadian International Development Agency revealed that two of its workers -- Guillaume Siemienski and Helene Rivard, a consultant -- had died in the quake.
"I was deeply saddened to learn of the deaths of Mr. Siemienski and Ms. Rivard," Bev Oda, Canada's minister of international co-operation, said in a statement.
"They will be remembered for their long-standing commitment to development and to improving the lives of Haitians. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families."
Quebec professor Denis Bellavance was also discovered Saturday in the rubble of Port-au-Prince University.
Officials say 1,362 Canadians are still missing in the quake, which has likely claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people working and living in Haiti.
The Red Cross estimates 50,000 people have died all told, while the Haitian government places it close to 200,000.
Canadian officials are shifting their efforts from search-and-rescue to humanitarian aid work. Looting and crime are already taking place in the country as its residents desperately search for food, water and shelter.
Donations are being accepted by several international agencies, while several online groups have been set up to find the missing.
With files from CTV.ca and The Canadian Press