THUNDER BAY -- Const. Joseph Prevett died doing what he loved.
The Thunder Bay Police Services lone K-9 officer suffered a suspected heart attack Wednesday during a training session with his new dog, Timber, at Gravenhurst, Ont.
Rushed to the hospital, the 50-year-old Prevett was pronounced dead a short time later.
Thunder Bay Police Chief J.P. Levesque called it a difficult day for everyone at the station.
“It’s difficult at a time like this on the organization, but more importantly our thoughts and prayers are with the family,” an emotional Levesque said at a hastily called news conference.
Prevett, originally from the Chatham, Ont. area, is one of five brothers who chose policing as a career. He first became a police officer in 1998, joining the Peel Regional Police. He made the move to Thunder Bay in 2003, and quickly took over the local K-9 unit.
He was paired with K-9 officer Thunder, and the two served together as partners for eight years, before Thunder, who has since died, was retired late last year.
He and Thunder boasted a 70 per cent success rate, more than double the typical 30 per cent rate for a police dog.
At the time Prevett called Thunder the best partner he’d ever had.
Levesque said he’s briefed members of the emergency task force, which Prevett belonged to, and will offer them grief counseling in the days to come.
“Any other member of the organization that’s interested may go as well,” the police chief said.
Flags are being flown at half-mast outside the police service’s Balmoral Street headquarters and Levesque said it will be up to the family to determine the funeral arrangements.
“It’s early yet. We’ve been speaking with the family. Joe is one of five brothers, all of whom are police officers. I would think a full police funeral would be in order, but that is entirely up to the family. Also, he’s not originally from Thunder Bay,” Levesque said.
The police service has appointed a funeral officer to assist the families to make the arrangements.
“We’ve already selected who that officer is going to be. They’re prepared to help the family as much as possible,” he said.
The Ontario Ministry of Labour has been called in to investigate the death alongside the OPP. Levesque said it will be up to them to release or not the official cause of death.
“It’s their investigation. I believe it would be their purview to do that,” Levesque said.
Prevett leaves behind a wife and family.
Thunder Bay Police have set up a Facebook memorial page in his honour.
The following video shows Prevett and Thunder working training together: