It’s not the kind of thing anyone wants to see in their neighbourhood.
An impromptu shrine memorializing two (2) young children who met a horrible fate in a middle class, peaceful, suburban community. Cards, flowers and Teddy Bears are starting to amass on the boulevard just outside the reaches of the yellow Police tape cordoning off the crime scene at #3 Coleridge Park Drive in Westwood.
Speculation now abounds regarding the whereabouts of Lisa Gibson (32), the mother of the two deceased children who are believed to have died as a result of intentional drownings. The children’s father, Brian Gibson is believed to have been at work at the time of the tragic incident.
The family residence is but a stones throw from nearby Benjaminson Park, a riverside green space that offers scenic views and easy access to the fast flowing waters of the Assiniboine River. That easy access obviously concerns Police who have expanded the crime scene to include access points to the park. Other reports indicate the WPS Harbour Master and Dive Time have been patrolling the river banks as part of the investigation.
It’s not a hard scenario to imagine.
(When Allyson McConnell drowned her two young sons she subsequently jumped off a busy freeway bridge in an apparent suicide attempt.)
Few people could imagine living with themselves after committing such a heinous criminal act.
The question remains, did Lisa Gibson take a plunge into the frigid, fast flowing waters of the Assiniboine River, or is she being harboured by someone intent on providing her refuge until she finds the courage to face a Police interrogation. Either way, the case will have a tragic outcome.
My true sympathy is reserved for the man in the middle of all this who now struggles to cope with an unquantifiable loss. Lest we forget, when Brian Gibson left for work on Wednesday morning, he was a husband and father of two beautiful children. The utopian life he once led has now been forever altered.
As I stood by the yellow tape, I engaged in a casual conversation with an inquisitive journalist who asked me how Police Officers cope with attending such disturbing crime scenes. I was grateful for the conversation and the opportunity to provide her with the unadulterated truth, “We don’t cope with it,” I replied, “We just live with it.” “I vividly recall every horrific crime scene I witnessed during my service as a front line Police Officer and later, as a Homicide Detective,” I explained.
Every tragic accident scene, suicide, senseless killing, decapitation, disembowelment and dismemberment. It never leaves you, I assured her. The good news is Police Organizations are starting to figure out you can’t expose human beings to these horrific incidents and simply expect them to suck it up as a hazard of the job. Police Organizations are starting to realize the need for mental health protocol (s) to address the needs of the men and women we expose to these types of events.
As the conversation wound down, I heard a familiar sound in the distance.
“Do you know what that is?” I asked a young camera man standing nearby. “I’m not sure,” he replied. I told him it was a sound only heard during the dog days of summer in Winnipeg. It was the sound of an ice cream truck, speaker blaring to alert neighbourhood children to rob their piggy banks to buy their favourite summer time treat. The same sound that whipped my young daughters into a near frenzy as they ran for the front door with great anticipation and change in hand.
As the truck neared, I was struck by the sadness of two little children who once lived at #3 Coleridge Park Drive who would never get a chance to experience that excitement.
Things like this just shouldn’t happen.