The British Columbia constable who died in an avalanche last week has been posthumously promoted to detective for his dedication as a police officer and commitment to improving his skills.
Nelson Police Service Chief Const. Donovan Fisher announced Wade Tittemore’s promotion at his funeral service Wednesday, saying they had already planned to move the constable up to their general investigation section before he died.
“I feel very honoured that I got to work with Wade the last couple of years and a little shortchanged that I didn’t get to work with him longer,” Fisher told the crowd that filled the Capitol Theatre in Nelson.
“Wade had a bright future within the Nelson police department,” he said.
Tittemore, who was 43, died while off-duty when an avalanche rolled over him and a co-worker Jan. 9 as they were skiing in the backcountry in southeastern B.C. The City of Nelson said his co-worker, Mathiew Nolet, remains in the intensive care unit of a local hospital and has “a long road ahead in his recovery.”
Tittemore was a 15-year police veteran, four of them with the Nelson Police Service, and was remembered as a selfless person with a unique, “wicked sharp” sense of humour who was deeply dedicated to his wife and two sons.
His sister-in-law, Shannon Cross, told the crowd he had a gentle soul and kind demeanour, and was full of integrity.
Cross said one of her favourite memories of her brother-in-law was from more than a decade ago when she walked in on him holding his infant son.
“Wade had Seth on his lap, hunched over, lovingly just staring at his new boy,” she said. “They didn’t notice me walk in and I had the privilege of witnessing the tenderness and the unconditional love and affection that Wade had in his heart for his children.”
Tittemore completed an Ironman Triathlon and was an avid skier and cyclist.
His supervisor, Sgt. Nate Holt, told the service that Tittemore had occasion to use his humour and athleticism on the job.
“Wade had someone take off from him once on a foot pursuit and within a block, of course, with the shape that Wade was in, he managed to catch him. And the suspect remarked, ‘That’s fast, he’s like cheetah on cocaine.’ So, that name stuck for Wade for quite a while,” Holt said.
Outside the service, Nelson Mayor Janice Morrison said Tittemore made an impact far beyond his years in the service.
“The theatre was full to capacity. I think this is a reflection on what this young man, Wade, meant to so many people in the communities he worked.”
The Nelson Police Service has only 20 officers and since the death of their co-worker, the RCMP has been helping cover shifts.
On the day of the avalanche, Kaslo Search and Rescue manager Mark Jennings-Bates said several volunteers from their team helicoptered into the site when they were told two skiers had been caught in the slide.
He said a group of other skiers nearby were first on the scene after the surviving officer flagged them down for help.
They used avalanche beacons to find Tittemore, and Jennings-Bates said when their members arrived Tittemore had been dug out of the snow but had no vital signs.
The RCMP said that the men entered the area by snowmobile and then hiked to ski an alpine bowl.
Holt said in his last words to Tittemore he asked if he was going skiing.
“They were following the rule we have in Nelson called the 10-centimetre rule. If it snows 10 centimetres or more overnight, you’re obliged to ski until 11 a.m., work be damned. That day it snowed 20 centimetres in 24 hours on the hill.”
Holt said his friend was content with his life.
“Wade’s positive outlook that I learned to love, and his love of music reminds me of Leonard Cohen, who said ‘There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.’”