Shelagh Mitchell first laid eyes on Adrian Oliver four years ago, when they were both training to become Mounties.
Mr. Oliver, then just 24, wore a green winter jacket and blue and yellow Abercrombie & Fitch sweatpants, his partner, Ms. Mitchell, recalls without hesitation. When he began to introduce himself to the class, the young cadet's troopmates began teasing him, hooting and hollering and shouting out nicknames.
"Adrian's face went bright red and his smile was unforgettable," Ms. Mitchell recalled. "It was clear that all his troopmates absolutely loved him. That's when my crush on Adrian first started."
The memory was one of several shared on Tuesday at an RCMP regimental funeral held for Constable Adrian Oliver, who died in a car crash in Surrey on Nov. 13. The 28-year-old earned his rank three years ago, in June of 2009.
A total of about 6,000 people, including about 4,200 uniformed emergency services personnel, attended the regimental funeral, second only to a state funeral.
The service, held at the Langley Events Centre, began with a march of RCMP members clad in red serge. They were joined by numerous other agencies – local, national and international – including municipal police forces, the Canada Border Services Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Following the march, attendees entered the stadium for a procession of prayers, musical selections and speeches, including one by Ms. Mitchell, who is today a constable as well.
"Adrian told me later that on that first day, as soon I walked into the classroom, he knew," she told the packed stadium. "He took one look at me and called 'dibs,' so everyone in Troop 41 would know to stay away from me, because I was his."
The two began dating soon after and eventually moved in together.
"Adrian ... You were the love of my life," Constable Mitchell continued. "And I am so proud, and thankful, that you're mine."
Constable Oliver's twin brother, Ben, who is also a police officer in the Lower Mainland, reflected on their childhood.
"When Adrian and I were little kids, we planned to grow up to be Mounties and live across the street from each other," he said.
"Obviously, we became Mounties, and our childhood dream came full circle when, six months ago, I moved in next to him and Shelagh," he said.
Ben had always considered his brother "the better half of us," he said. "He was kinder, funnier, more considerate and more generous than me and I strived everyday to become a fraction of the man Adrian was."
Constable Oliver was on duty and returning to the Surrey RCMP detachment on Nov. 13 when his unmarked police car collided with a large semi-trailer truck at the intersection of 148th Street and 64th Avenue in Surrey's Newton neighbourhood. Emergency responders freed the unconscious officer from his vehicle and transported him to hospital, but he did not survive his injuries. The driver of the truck was not injured.
Constable Oliver's father is a Mountie as well: Chief Superintendent Joe Oliver currently serves in Ottawa as the director-general of border integrity for the RCMP's federal and international operations.
Surrey RCMP's Criminal Collision Investigation Team continues to investigate the cause of the crash with help from the Integrated Collision Analyst Reconstruction Team and oversight from the Vancouver police department.