‘It’s very tragic’: Family, friends devastated after off-duty officer dies in crash

‘It’s very tragic’: Family, friends devastated after off-duty officer dies in crash

A nine-year police officer who was killed off-duty in a head-on crash Friday morning is being remembered as an easy-going person who was passionate about music.

Const. Joseph Mellen, with Niagara Regional Police, was riding his motorcycle home after finishing a 12-hour overnight shift.

His motorcycle and an oncoming car collided at approximately 5 a.m. in the southbound lanes of Highway 406 in Welland, Ont.

Mellen, who was a father to two young children, died at the scene.

“The family is even more devastated than his co-workers,” Niagara Police Chief Jeff McGuire told reporters Friday.

“It’s a very sad time for them. It’s going to be a big loss.”

OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said that the circumstances surrounding Mellen’s unexpected death will “hit home to every officer dealing with traffic fatalities like this.”

“It’s very tragic right now,” Schmidt told reporters.

Police say the driver of the car, a 24-year-old woman, was airlifted to hospital with serious, but non-life-threatening injuries.

Investigators believe the impact from the crash ejected Mellen from his motorcycle and the car hit a guard rail and was facing the wrong way.

“It appears the vehicles came into contact in a head-on collision,” Schmidt said. “The rider of the motorcycle was ejected from the motorcycle, struck the car and sustained fatal injuries.”

The 33-year-old officer joined the force as a cadet in 2004 and had been working for Niagara Regional Police for the past nine years.

“He was a good cop, a good hard-working civil servant serving the citizens of Niagara region,” McGuire said. “He was also a great, fun guy to be around. He is one of those guys who will be sorely missed.”

It’s not yet known if alcohol was a factor or if charges will be laid. Schmidt said the area where the crash happened is a construction zone, however the lanes at the time of the crash were “well marked and clearly discernable.”

Any witnesses are asked to call Niagara OPP.

With a report from CTV Toronto’s John Musselman