Reg. # 40153, Cst. Della Sonya BEYAK
March 15, 1989 near Assiniboia, Saskatchewan
Women were admitted to the ranks of the RCMP in 1974. Since then, more than 1600 female officers have served in the Force. Cst. Della BEYAK is the first woman to be entered on the RCMP Honour Roll.
Della Sonya BEYAK was born on October 23, 1967 at Winnipegosis, Manitoba to Paul and Sophie BEYAK. She had a brother Leonard and sisters, Leona and Darlene. Della attended Winnipegosis Collegiate where she was the editor of the school yearbook and manager of the Senior Boys Basketball team. She participated in volleyball, basketball and track & field. Della was an outstanding figure skater and a member of the 4-H club. She was also a member of the Sopilka Ukrainian Dancers.
What was most impressive about Della is the fact that she had always wanted to be a police officer. After high school graduation, she attended the University of Manitoba. While attending university, she worked part time with the campus police. During the summer of 1987, she was a RCMP summer student at Cranberry Portage, Manitoba. When Della BEYAK applied for the Force in 1988, she was deemed to be an exceptional candidate. In Aprill 1988, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology from the University of Manitoba. Two months later; June 10, 1988, she was welcomed into the Force and began her police career at the Training Academy at Depot Division in Regina.
In December 1988, she was posted to Assiniboia in southern Saskatchewan, and immediately thrust herself into the life of the community, giving lectures on law awareness at the local schools.
On Wednesday, March 15, 1989, Cst. BEYAK was involved in a macabre series of events during when three people were killed. The tragic drama began at 9:15 am when a mobile crane, driven by Keith Jeffrey, 38, of Saskatoon, went out of control on icy Highway #2, 14 miles south of Assiniboia. The crane collided with a northbound van driven by David Thomson, 32, of Scout Lake. The van was so badly damaged that Assiniboia volunteer firemen had to cut it open to free its five injured passengers. One of the van’s occupants, 32 year old Allen Ager, died in the wreck. The officers at the scene called the Assiniboia Detachment and requested assistance. Cst. BEYAK, who was working on voluntary overtime, left the office to respond to the call. In the meantime, ambulances arrived at the accident scene and took the injured to Assiniboia Union Hospital. The coroner, Everett Klein, came to the site to attend Allen Ager. One of the ambulances driven by Steve Wald remained to transport the dead man to the morgue.
When Coroner Klein was finished at the scene of the accident, he climbed into his car and headed south to Assiniboia. By now, there was a snowstorm blowing and, because of the reduced visibility, the ambulance carrying the deceased followed closely behind the coroner. As they worked their way north on Highway #2, Cst. BEYAK was driving north on the same road.
Stuck behind a slow-moving transport that was throwing blinding snow up on her windshield, BEYAK attempted to get around it. She edged her vehicle out across the center line to see if she could pass. Instantly the police cruiser collided head-on with Coroner Klein. Then Steve Wald’s ambulance piled into the back of Klein’s car. Although Wald’s nose was badly broken and his face severely cut, he stumbled over to the other two wrecked vehicles to find that Cst. BEYAK and Coroner Klein were both dead. The sequence of that day’s ghastly events still defies sensible comment.
The following week, the small communities of southern Saskatchewan were enshrouded in a pall of death. Everett Klein was buried on Saturday, March 18. Allan Ager, the original fatality, was buried the following Monday. That same day in Manitoba, Cst. BEYAK was interred with a military type funeral in the cemetery of Winnipegosis. Troopmates from her graduating class attended from all across Canada. What they witnessed in the graveyard that day was not only the sadness of the premature death of a beautiful woman, but the tragedy of a dream unfulfilled.
(Photo available – Personnel File reviewed)