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Sgt. Rick McDonald was killed in the line of duty 21 years ago this week

Death of Sudbury police officer led to stiffer penalties for suspects who flee

Twenty-one years ago on July 28, Sudbury police Sgt. Rick McDonald was killed in the line of duty.

In the early morning hours of July 28, 1999, McDonald was fatally injured when he was struck by a stolen vehicle that was fleeing police. A 12-year veteran, he was survived by his wife, mother, brothers and sister.

In a statement issued today to note the anniversary of his passing, Greater Sudbury Police highlighted the impact McDonald’s death had not only in Sudbury, but for police services across the province. 

In his honour, Greater Sudbury Police cadets at the Ontario Police College today affixed a ribbon to the plaque next to Sgt. Rick McDonald’s name in the college’s Memorial Hall. 

Over the course of his career, McDonald served in several departments, including Uniform Patrol, Criminal Investigations Division, and the Traffic Management Unit. His commitment to the health, safety and prosperity of his fellow officers was a driving force in his career, GSPS said.

“Throughout his career, Rick's determination to fight for officer rights and his strong opinions were put to good use as he spent many years on the board of the Sudbury Police Association, which included two terms as president,” the police service said. “At the time of his death, Rick was serving as president of the Police Association.”

His impact on his fellow officers continued after his passing, as well. The Rick McDonald Memorial Act (Suspect Apprehension Pursuits) 1999 was enacted after his death. This act amended the Highway Traffic Act to allow for stiffer penalties for those who run from police. 

Combined with new federal legislation passed In 2000, now people can face a number of consequences under the Criminal Code of Canada if convicted of motor vehicle-related offences.

Since 1999, McDonald’s name has been memorialized in the community as well.

On Aug. 5, 2000, an Azilda park was christened the Rick McDonald Memorial Park to celebrate him and honour his love of baseball.

In 2006, the bridge at the interchange between Highway 17 and Highway 69 was named after McDonald under the Highway Memorials for Fallen Police Officers Act, 2002, a bill championed by former Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci, which permits the naming of highway bridges and other structures on the Ontario highways in memory of police officers who died in the line of duty.

In May 2015, GSPS introduced the Sergeant Richard McDonald Memorial Award, “which is presented to a Member of our Police Service in recognition of their enthusiasm and positive attitude that promotes a culture that significantly motivates Members, fosters team spirit and supports Our Shared Commitment to Community Safety and Well-being.”

McDonald’s community-mindedness is also memorialized in the annual Rick & Dan McDonald Memorial Child and Family Foundation Annual Golf Tournament, which raises funds for local youth charities. A student bursary was also created in his memory. 

“Rick, our ‘Mon Chum,’ is remembered for his tall stature, his great sense of humour, and his strong, infectious personality,” GSPS said today. “Heroes in life, not death. Never forgotten.”

The person responsible for McDonald’s death, Jeremy Trodd, was a youth at the time of the crash that killed the officer.

Trodd, who was driving the vehicle in the incident that killed McDonald, is now 37 years old, and has had a long list of run-ins with the law since his release from jail in 2007. Most recently, in December 2019, Trodd was sentenced to 14 months for various weapons offences, after police found him in possession of several weapons, including a machete. Trodd said he was planning on selling the weapons, which were stolen, to feed his drug habit.