Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson said his community feels a combination of shock and grief over the loss of four Royal Military College cadets who died after their vehicle fell into water on campus early Friday. .
The fourth-year cadets were identified as Jack Hogarth, Andrei Honciu, Broden Murphy and Andrés Salek by RMC Commanding Officer Commodore Josée Kurtz.
“They come from all over the country, but when they’re here, they’re as much a part of the Kingston community as anyone else,” Paterson said. “We mourn this loss for sure.”
Paterson, who is an assistant professor at RMC, said two of the cadets were in one of his classes several years ago, but he didn’t know them well. He declined to name them.
He said he expected there would be a funeral but had no details, saying the college would likely conduct it. He said he offered the full support of the city and his heart breaks for families, friends and fellow cadets.
“This is a time for us to stick together, to stick together with the entire RMC community and with everyone going through a difficult time right now.”
Ex-teacher not surprised cadet decided to serve the country
The cadets were weeks away from completing their Bachelor of Arts. Hogarth and Salek were studying military and strategic studies and planned to become armored officers in the army.
Honciu was studying business administration and was about to become a logistics officer, and Murphy was majoring in business administration with plans to become an aerospace environmental controller in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
A former high school teacher remembers Honciu as quite quiet and shy, but also happy and full of energy.
“He always had a smile on his face and made everyone laugh,” said Richard Oki, who taught Honciu math in grades 9 and 10 at Northern Secondary School in Toronto.
“It was obvious from the start of grade 9 math class that Andrei was a terrific student,” said Oki, who added that he hoped Honciu would pursue a post-secondary education in engineering. “His work was always impeccable and he was very intelligent, not only in mathematics, but in many areas, so he immediately stood out in the class.”
Oki said he was devastated by the news, especially since Honciu was only weeks away from graduating. Besides being strong academically, he was a leader of the school soccer team.
“It doesn’t surprise me that he had the courage and bravery to represent our country,” Oki said.
‘Everyone is feeling depressed’: Queen’s student
Tyson Rudolph, a freshman at Queen’s University, did not know any of the cadets, but knows other students who attend RMC.
“Everybody feels depressed,” he said. “That’s really sad to hear.”
Kingston resident Doreen Vroegop said she was “shocked” when she heard the news.
“It broke my heart to hear that these young children, who have worked so hard to get to where they are and their lives are just beginning… they are just taken away.”
The incident happened shortly after 2 a.m. Friday at Point Frederick, a peninsula on Canadian Forces Base Kingston located between Kingston Harbor and Navy Bay on the St. Lawrence River. An investigation is underway by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, the independent arm of the Canadian Forces Military Police.
Few details have been made public, with officials citing the investigation, and several RMC members declined to comment.
Rory Fowler, a military lawyer and retired lieutenant colonel, said there was a tendency to close ranks when an incident attracted media attention.
“The only way to find out…the details of a military police investigation is, in fact, if charges are laid.”
Fowler expects the initial investigation to take weeks. Further investigation, called a commission of inquiry, would likely take months, he said.