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Wife of fallen officer speaks emotionally at funeral, calls him her 'hero'

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - The wife of a Toronto-area police officer who died following a car collision while on duty gave him an emotional goodbye Tuesday, calling him her hero.

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - The wife of a Toronto-area police officer who died following a car collision while on duty gave him an emotional goodbye Tuesday, calling him her hero.

Erin Ochakovsky described her husband, Peel region Const. Artem (James) Ochakovsky, as a loving husband and father and said they told each other every day how happy they were.

"He loved me with indescribable love," Erin said as she fought back tears at his funeral. "He was my hero. He was my Prince Charming. He was my everything."

The service held at the Hershey Centre was attended by hundreds of police officers from across Canada and some from the United States.

Ochakovsky died last Tuesday after a car crash in Brampton - the first Peel officer to die in the line of duty in 25 years.

The couple had a young son, Owen, and Erin said James was happy he was finally at an age where they could start doing things together.

She also praised him as the "kind of father that every woman dreams of."

"Babe I love you. Thank you for giving me the most wonderful eight years of my life," she said.

"I miss you already. You were my life. You were my heart. I'll see you again."

Ontario's premier described Ochakovsky, and a second police officer who died in the line of duty in the province in a single week, as heroes who, like each of their colleagues, is "owed our gratitude, respect and support."

"They're the ones who keep us safe," Dalton McGuinty told the mourners.

"They're the first to respond to a crisis and the last to leave the scene."

A provincial police officer, Const. Vu Pham, was shot and killed Monday after pulling over a vehicle in a rural area of southwestern Ontario.

Also in the congregation Tuesday were firefighters, paramedics, other emergency officials, border guards and other uniformed personnel.

"On top of what's happened to the Peel officer and so closely behind one of our own officers is killed on duty, it's very tragic," provincial police Insp. Dave Lee said outside the funeral.

Ochakovsky was en route to help another officer transport an individual when his marked cruiser hit a vehicle and ended up wrapped around a light pole a week ago Monday. He died in hospital the following night.

"Something like this can happen to any one of us on a given day so it's a sombre reminder," said Peel Sgt. Nigel Gonsalves.

Inside the funeral, Rev. Walter Kelly said Ochakovsky was a "very special family member to you all."

He said the officer's death "was out of order," because he was so young, and asked for special prayers for the man's young son.

"Let us not forget Owen, who is not even four years old yet," Kelly urged the congregation.

"The impact of daddy not coming home has yet to impact his life. There are no answers as to why."

Kelly also promised that Pham would receive the same outpouring of support from the police community as Ochakovsky has.

"We all now know yet another officer has fallen in the line of duty," he said.

"You can be assured you will get the same support and love from all of us."

The province's Special Investigations Unit identified Tuesday the man involved in the confrontation that led to Pham's shooting death as Fred Preston, 70, of Burk's Falls.

The SIU said Preston remains in critical condition at Victoria Hospital in London.

CTV reports the 70-year-old was shot eight times during a gunfight with officers.

The SIU says six investigators and three forensic investigators are examining the case and that three witness officers and one subject officer have been designated.

Burk's Falls is located between Muskoka, in the heart of Ontario's cottage country, and northern Ontario's North Bay.

 
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