STONY PLAIN, Alta. - An RCMP officer barely seven months into her career was killed in a traffic accident early Monday.
Const. Chelsey Alice Robinson died shortly after midnight when her vehicle was broadsided by a semi-trailer near a highway west of Edmonton.
Robinson was responding to a report of an impaired driver going the wrong way in the westbound lane of Hwy 16, a major east-west highway, when her marked cruiser was struck by the truck.
Police believe the cruiser was struck on the side by the transport truck at the intersection.
"She was taken to hospital, where she died of her injuries," said Sgt. Tim Taniguchi.
Robinson, 25, was married with no children.
After the collision, the truck veered into the grassy median between the two lanes of the highway and burst into flames. The driver managed to escape and was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
"The driver of the tractor-trailer was in no way related to the reported impaired driver," Taniguchi said.
Robinson's fellow members from the Stony Plain detachment were the ones who responded to the accident.
"It's a very shocking and very tragic event," Taniguchi said.
"It's very sad for the whole police community across Canada. Police work can be very dangerous. We have to be at a constant readiness and have a constant risk assessment while we do our duties, including when we do normal patrols."
Assistant Commissioner Peter Hourihan said the death of an on-duty officer always affects RCMP officers across the country.
"Oh it's very difficult, as you can probably tell in my voice," he said.
"It's so tragic when someone young dies this way. It's tragic for the family and the friends ... and the police community is a large family because of the nature of the business and the dangers that we face, so we treat them as one of our own."
Support workers are available both for those at the accident and for those who knew Robinson, whose name will be added to the wall of honour at RCMP K-Division headquarters for members killed in the line of duty.
Taniguchi said the last two officers who have been added to that wall died in traffic accidents.
Police continue to investigate Robinson's death, which was also hitting hard in southern Alberta as Robinson was originally from Picture Butte, just north of Lethbridge.
Picture Butte Mayor Terry Kerkhoff said the officer and her family are well known in the community.
"Her dad, Sam West, is our fire chief," Kerkhoff said. "Her sister works with our emergency services department and her mom is well known as well.
"Something like this happens where the family is so intertwined with the community and everybody knows everybody. So it'll be a struggle. As all small communities do, they'll find a way to pull together and get through it."
Kerkhoff said Robinson used to serve on Picture Butte's volunteer fire department and a few years ago attended school at the University of Lethbridge.
Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach passed on his condolences to Robinson's family and friends.
"I was saddened to hear of the passing of Const. Chelsey Robinson," Stelmach said in a news release.
"The loss of one of our finest in red serge in the line of duty is a tragic event that is mourned by all Albertans. My thoughts and prayers go out to Robinson's family and friends and her colleagues in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police during this tragic time."
(The Canadian Press, CJOC, CBC)