Backgrounder: Niagara Bridges Dedicated To Fallen Police Officers
Three bridges in the Niagara region have been officially dedicated to the memory of three Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers who died in the line of duty.
Constable John Gregovski Bridge dedicated: CN Rail Overpass on Sand Plant Hill, Niagara-on-the-Lake John Gregovski, a son of Hungarian immigrants to southwestern Ontario, was born on September 7, 1942. He joined the OPP on October 7, 1963, where he worked at the St. Catharines detachment until that office closed in 1985. At that time, he moved to the Niagara Falls detachment. Constable Gregovski was a traffic officer and policed the busy highways in the Niagara region during his 25-year career. He later became very interested in truck safety, frequently working with Ministry of Transportation officers in enforcement work. Gregovski was a popular officer with both the public and his fellow colleagues. He was an avid outdoorsman. Gregovski was on the night shift on January 4, 1989, when he went to assist a disabled van on the Queen Elizabeth Way at the base of the Garden City Skyway Bridge. After calling for a wrecker to tow the van, both Gregovski and the driver of the disabled vehicle waited in the cruiser, with its roof lights activated. At about 2:30 a.m. a westbound tractor trailer came up in the right-hand lane of the three-lane roadway, striking the cruiser. Both the officer and the 36-year-old passenger sitting in the police car, were killed on impact. Constable Gregovski is survived by his wife Sandy, daughter Stephanie and son Bradley. Bradley has followed his father's footsteps and is currently an OPP officer working out of the Norfolk County detachment. Constable Michael W. Gula Bridge decicated: McLeod Road Overpass, Niagara Falls Michael Walter Gula was born on May 23, 1943, and joined the OPP on October 10, 1967. He spent 18 years working out of the St. Catharines OPP detachment, with occasional stints of summer duty at Grand Bend. Constable Gula moved to the Niagara OPP office in 1985. His colleagues called him "King of the Highway" over the course of his 29 years of service. On April 2, 1996, while patrolling the Queen Elizabeth Way northbound in Niagara Falls, Gula saw another highway cruiser stopped. He pulled over and activated his roof lights to complement those of the other cruiser. As Constable Gula stood on the shoulder of the road talking to the other officer, he was struck by a sport utility truck. Despite the brave efforts of his fellow officer who moved him clear of the road, Gula tragically died later in hospital. Gula had earned the Police Exemplary Service Medal in addition to his Long Service Award. A plaque honours him at the Niagara detachment office. At the time of his death, he was less than five months away from retirement. Constable Gula is survived by his wife Zan and sons Kevin Gula, Robert Gula, stepson Patrick McGrath and stepdaughter Tammy Goodine. Constable Charles Mercier Bridge dedicated: Niagara Street Bridge, St. Catharines Charles Mercier was born in Welland on July 13, 1965, and attended École Secondaire Welland, where he earned letters in basketball and volleyball and was president of the student council. He joined the OPP on September 8, 1986. Constable Mercier's first posting was in Kapuskasing in northeastern Ontario. He was later transferred to Welland and in 1994 to the Niagara detachment, where he was a designated shift leader for three years. Mercier's record contained several commendations for work in francophone services and in promoting and working with students in senior elementary schools. On the morning of September 30, 1999, Mercier was directing traffic at a construction site on the Queen Elizabeth Way. Just after 8 a.m., Mercier was in his marked cruiser with a raised rooftop flashing sign activated when a van crossed from the passing lane and crashed into the rear of the police car. The 13-year veteran police officer was killed on impact. Constable Mercier is survived by his wife Joyce, daughter Michelle and son Nicholas.