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My name is Anna Korutowska. I am a widow of Constable Eric Czapnik.
I prepared this victim impact statement on behalf of Eric parents who are living in Poland, our 5.5 year old son Anthony who was only 3 years and 3 months old at the time of Eric's killing and myself.
You all have heard about the last hours and minutes of Eric's life and you witnessed the last seconds played on video, however there is 51 years of life that I would like Eric to be remembered for.
There is one statement that I agree on with my husband's killer. Eric was a good man.
He was a great person, not without flaws, but he was a compassionate, very real, honest, hard working and Eric took full responsibility for his actions always.
His life was not an easy one. He grew up in communist era Poland, escaped to Greece at the age of 30 with a 5 months pregnant wife and 2 small children, with no knowledge of any foreign language and only a desire to settle 'in some western country to have a better life. At the age of 32 Eric and his family arrived in Ottawa. After a difficult start his life started to become better, the family bought a home, both spouses had a stable employment when at the age of 38 Eric's life took a turn for the worse. His marriage has dissolved. Eric took the whole experience very hard suffering from depression and barely able to work and function. However rather then turn to violence and blame the whole world for his situation, looking for petty from everybody, Eric faced the situation like a real man. Eric took charge of his life and addressed the issues he was facing by turning to exercise; healthy living and he sought help from professionals.
Eric's parents are devastated. Eric's mom who had an opportunity
to attend the
preliminary hearing watched in horror the video of the last steps and breaths ever taken by her son. It left a lasting memory. She often refers to Eric's violent death and becomes extremely emotional thinking how Eric had to look death in the eye. Despite previous plans, Eric's mom was unable to fly and participate during the
trial due to a recently developed heart condition. She has been in a very good health for her age until the tragic and ever so violent death of her baby. Her health both physical and emotional took a turn for the worse after Eric's passing. She is 76 and even though Eric was 51 when he died, to his mom he has always been a 5 year old boy. There are no words to describe the sadness she is experiencing. I speak to her almost every week and almost every week she cries. She cries and I cry, we both cry. She wishes she died first.
As for Anthony ...well, anybody who knows and comes in contact with him is usually shocked at first at the level of knowledge about death and the level of loss he is experiencing. Some could think that at the age of 3 he does not remember or understand much. Those who think this are very mistaken. I was not aware about the level of his understanding until around 2 weeks after Eric's funeral,
when Anthony asked me while sitting in the bathtub and playing ....mommy, why did the police put daddy in big brown box? I was shocked. At first I was not sure how to answer, however qulcklv I learnt that this little boy will be asking lots of questions and will want to know every single detail about why and how his daddy died. This was only one of the many more questions to come.
Now Anthony is very familiar and fluently knows vocabulary that no 3,4 or 5 year old should ever know. He knows what is a coffin, hearse that people go to heaven when they die; he associates pipe bands with daddy's funeral. He knows Oaddy has a monument on Parliament Hill and that Daddy is in heaven now, but his body is buried at the cemetery where we go to put flowers and light a candle. However this understanding was not there at the beginning, for the first year after Eric's passing Anthony would not be able to come out of the car when we went to the cemetery. He would profusely refuse to go to Eric's grave site. He had a hard time understanding why I tell him daddy is in heaven, and why we cannot visit him there, and we go visit the grave site where he remembers his daddy being buried in the ground.
Eric was a very hands-on father. Since Anthony was born he took an active role in caring and looking after Anthony. He never believed women where the ones
solely responsible for caring for children. Eric changed "diapers, fed Anthony, sang to him, bathed him and did all that a real father should do. As Anthony started growing Anthony and Eric would bond even more. They often took weekend long trips to the family cottage. The boys would do minor fixes, chopped wood, cleaned the leaves and fed the duckies. Eric was looking forward to taking
Anthony to hockey practices, teaching him to ski, skate, fish and all other boys
activities, however he never got the opportunity
to do it, as his life was abruptly
cut short. Anthony talks about missing his daddy every single day. Every day he tells me he would like his daddy to come back. He often tells me with a sad look on his face that he wishes his daddy could pick him up from daycare, while watching other children being picked up by their fathers. Until today Anthony wakes up during the night saying he dreamt that daddy came back. He misses the kisses; he vividly remembers Eric's smell of cologne. He often comments on
others, mommy, this man smells like daddy. There are many more examples I could provide. I will end with a concern Anthony came to me within the last several days, he said that he was very worried at the daycare, I asked why, he answered, mommy I was worried that if you are in court with Kevin Gregson you will die too. A 5 and a half year old should not be worried about their parent
dying, well not Anthony. Anthony lost his beloved daddy at the hands and violent actions of Kevin Gregson and even at 5 and half years old he knows very well there is a great chance for this man to reoffend and hurt another person if not stopped. Each of us onlv has one dad; Anthony's daddy was taken from him. Actions and choices made by Kevin Gregson changed Anthony's world forever.
As for me ....my world shattered in early hours of December 29, 2009. I lost my husband, a best friend, a partner and my baby's daddy all at once. Now looking in the retrospect I know I was in shock, very hurt and destroyed, however I felt a sense of responsibility and I knew I had to step up and put on a brave face to
notify everybody, the time was of an essence as the name of the officer killed at the Civic Hospital had to be released. We wanted to notify as many as possible before the news broke out. We had to prepare a news release with statement from the family and start making final arrangements. While I imagine most people dealing with death of a loved one, experience similar feelings, however the magnitude of the issues to deal with for a full police funeral, all preparations, all necessary arrangements are very different and most of all very public. It is not to call his older children, his
easy to grief in public. It was my responsibility
parents and our friends. Then in the morning of December 29 I had to attend to Anthony who woke up happy and ready to enjoy the Christmas break from daycare and spend time with h.is parents. Anthony called me from his crib and I had to look into those little happy eyes and tell him that his daddy has died and will never come home again. It was heartbreaking. I had to explain over and over what it means as he did not understand. The first year and a half were very
difficult. I am a strong person but the loss of Eric was braking me. I was finding it
very difficult to look after little Anthony who was grieving as well. I have never signed up to be a single mother and I found it hard. I have no family here and it was only up to me to care for him and he needed me more than ever. I had to control my emotions and sadness, I did not want to cry in front of Anthony as it did and still does upset him. I would only allow myself to have big cries late at night when Anthony was sound asleep. I was experiencing a great sense of loss, I could not believe my emotions when I had to wash Eric's towel, and then when the last toothpaste finished that we shared together, for a longest time I did not want to throw out his toothbrush slept in for the last time. and I was not able to change the bed sheets we
The hardest were long winter evenings when Anthony
was in bed. I was left alone with my grief, the memories of happy times. I miss the conversations with Eric. He was a great husband; friend and I miss him terribly.
Eric was taken away from us. His life ended way too early by a senseless act of violence. Whatever was the intention, it ended in terrible tragedy for our entire family. However, I vow in front of you, we will persevere, we will survive and together we will raise little Anthony to become a good man, just like his daddy. Our family will be happy again, we will follow our plans and realize our dreams as
we had with Eric. Eric will always be a happy part of our life, he will always be our hero and we will continue to cherish the memories we have with him.
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