Distraught dad tells RCMP trainees about his experience
Okotoks: Death of daughter made worse by police handling
By: Darlene Casten
| Posted: Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013 01:33 pm
A former Okotoks man recently fulfilled a promise he made to himself and his daughter, who was killed while the pair biked west of Okotoks last summer.
Lou Rosenfeld met with RCMP trainees at the training depot in Regina last month to tell them about his experience with officers while his daughter lay dying on the side of the highway.
Rosenfeld was out biking with his 20-year-old daughter Rebecca, who was visiting from the U.S., on July 4 when she veered into traffic and was struck by a truck. When EMS personnel arrived on scene Rosenfeld was allowed to stay close to his daughter, but when police arrived he was escorted away while paramedics continued to work.
Rosenfeld said he couldn’t see or talk to his daughter and didn’t know what was happening. When he tried to make a move to get closer, he said an officer told him he couldn’t get closer and that he would end up in handcuffs if he tried to. When it was determined Rebecca could not be saved, Rosenfeld was given a moment to say goodbye before her body was taken away.
Losing those last minutes with his daughter was something that stayed with Rosenfeld well after her death, he said.
“I would just go out and drive and scream,” he said. “I would drive at high rates of speed in the hopes that I would get pulled over just so I could get in an argument with the officer.”
He said he knew it wasn’t right, but his anger over how he was handled while his daughter was breathing her last breaths was too much for him to handle.
Rosenfeld met with the former head of the Okotoks RCMP detachment, who reviewed the case and issued an apology for some of the officer’s actions at the scene. He decided not to issue a formal complaint with the RCMP, but did request sensitivity training be increased amongst all RCMP officers.
Last month he was invited to speak to cadets at the RCMP training depot to share his experience and take questions.
“I did a presentation to the class and staff,” Rosenfeld said. “I talked about what happened at the scene and my reactions to that and the way everything was handled and the problems I think that presents.”
He said it was hard to gauge his audience’s reaction to his message, but believes it was important information to have.
“Their reactions were more private, but they did have a lot of questions for me,” Rosenfeld said. “Many people came up and thanked me.”
He said knowledge of what victims go through is essential to police training.
“Without that understanding they don’t have the ability to deal with people affected both with their grief and for the safety of everyone involved,” he said.
His presentation was taped and can be used for future classes, Rosenfeld said, adding he’d also be interested in writing an article for an RCMP publication.
As a result of the accident he said improving RCMP awareness about victim’s struggles was a promise he made to himself and his daughter.
Since Rebecca’s death Rosenfeld moved to Calgary and continues to run his bike store there. He said life has resumed to normal, but added it is still difficult to think about his daughter’s death.
“I go to work, I run the store, I’m getting married in June,” he said of his daily life. “But talking about my daughter is still difficult.”