Backgrounder - Haliburton Area Bridges Dedicated To Fallen Police Officers

Archived Backgrounder

Backgrounder - Haliburton Area Bridges Dedicated To Fallen Police Officers

Detective Sergeant Lorne J. Chapitis, Highway 35 bridge at Moore Lake in Minden Hills and Corporal James Smith, Highway 35 bridge at Moore Lake in Minden Hills.

Lorne Chapitis was born in Toronto on March 5, 1930 and worked first as a factory clerk and later for Canadian Tire before becoming an army cadet and then joining the armoured regiment militia.

He joined the Ontario Provincial Police on November 13, 1951 and learned policing at Mount Forest, Owen Sound, Guelph, Walkerton and, finally, the Peterborough detachment.

An aptitude for criminal work earned Chapitis a corporal's stripes on May 1, 1962; he was promoted to detective sergeant on June 1, 1964. Chapitis received commendations for investigations in armed robberies, murders and assaults. When he attended his last call, Chapitis had just learned he had passed the examination for detective inspector.

James Smith was born January 16, 1925 in the Chatham area. After attending Westdale Technical Institute in Hamilton, he joined the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve and later served his country in the Fleet Air Arm, from 1944 to 1946. Smith became a journeyman mechanic after the war but was looking for a more interesting career.

He joined the OPP on August 2, 1955. Smith became a corporal on January 15, 1966 and worked in identification services. On his own initiative he took a correspondence course with the Institute of Applied Science in Chicago in advanced fingerprints and photography.

On December 11,1968 Smith and Chapitis assisted Minden Ontario Provincial Police at South Lake in response to a call that a man had threatened to kill his mother and was barricaded in the family home. Chapitis was a trained hostage negotiator and Smith was adept at using tear gas. The two OPP officers joined five Minden officers in surrounding the house.

Smith and Chapitis started to talk to the man. The man shouted for them to come closer where he could see them. When they did so, unarmed and hands held out to show they posed no threat, the man fired three times, killing Chapitis instantly and wounding Smith, who died within minutes. 

Chapitis was survived by his wife, two daughters and a son.

Smith was survived by his wife and a son.


Provincial Constable Eric Nystedt
Highway 35 at Gull River in Minden Hills

Eric Nystedt was born in Sault Ste. Marie on July 26, 1968, and at an early age was involved in all kinds of recreational activities. His interests took him after graduation from Bawatting Collegiate in Sault Ste. Marie to Carleton University in Ottawa, where he was working on a bachelor's degree in psychology.

His older brother was an OPP officer, and Nystedt became interested in police work as a result. He was accepted for recruit training on September 4, 1990. Later, while at the Ontario Police College, he set a record for the 1.5-mile race that has never been broken. After graduation, he was assigned to the Minden detachment.

Nystedt had been on the job for less than three years when he was called out with another Senior Constable on Saturday July 3, 1993. The two officers were called twice that shift to an assault, domestic occurrence at a location near the village of Kinmount.

A man was drunk and his behaviour was said to be endangering others at a cottage in the Furnace Falls area. At 2 a.m., the officers were looking for the suspect, who had run off into the bush after having committed an assault.

Nystedt and his partner were searching for the man in the bush when the suspect attacked Nystedt from behind, stabbing him to death.

For five years, Nystedt's memory was celebrated in a huge annual run in Sault Ste. Marie that raised thousands of dollars for heart and stroke research. An annual golf tournament also honored the officer.

A fitness award in his name is given to the most fit recruit in each OPP Academy class. In 1999, a five-kilometre run and walk was established in memory of all OPP officers killed on the job.

He was survived by his parents, a brother and his fiancé.


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