Streets were closed and merchants and passersby came out to witness the funeral procession for RCMP Const. Willi Chou Wednesday when emergency services members turned out from across the B.C. to honour Chou and show their support for his family and Nanaimo RCMP detachment.
The procession, led by eight pallbearers escorting the hearse carrying Chou’s body, formed at 10:30 a.m. and marched from the detachment on Prideaux Street and down Fitzwilliam and Front streets to its destination, St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Church Street.
Chou, 27, was found dead in his home March 19 by RCMP members who went to check on him when he did not show up for his shift.
A medical investigation determined a brain aneurysm as the cause of death.
Chou, originally from Mississauga, Ont., had only been on the force just over a year and had served as a general duty officer at Nanaimo since graduating from the RCMP training depot in Regina, Sask., in 2012. The sudden, unexpected death of such a young constable was taken hard by the members of his watch.
“We were very fortunate that members came in from Duncan, Port Alberni, Comox Valley and Courtenay to assist us in this tragic time,” said Sgt. Sheryl Armstrong, Nanaimo RCMP spokeswoman, following the ceremony.
Chief Superintendent Randy Wilson, RCMP Vancouver Island district commander, Inspector Jim Faulkner, RCMP Island District Headquarters operations officer, plus troop mates Chou graduated with were among those who came from across B.C. to be part of the procession and show support for Chou’s family who arrived from Ontario for the ceremony.
“We’d also like to thank the firemen, [Emergency Health Services] and sheriffs for coming out as well,” Armstrong said. “That’s huge.”
Members of search and rescue units, City of Nanaimo employees and city council representatives attended as well.