At six feet and two inches tall, George BENNETT was an imposing figure in his OPP uniform. He was equally impressive in his ceremonial dress as a member of the Force Pipe and Drum Band.
George Bennett was born on June 26, 1945 and lived in Mississauga before moving to Midland where he attended high school. While enrolled at Midland Secondary School, he excelled in industrial arts.
Bennett spent a brief time as a cadet with the Metropolitan Toronto Police before joining the OPP as a constable on June 30, 1975. During his first year on the Force, George served at the Brechin Detachment before transferring to Orillia.
By and large, George’s duties included general duties and traffic work and he had taken the snowmobile operator’s course. His experience with snow machines was limited to a few weeks per year at country property protection and winter sports events, as he did not own a snow vehicle of his own.
Constable George Bennett and Constable Jim Hewitt worked together in 1980 conducting routine snow vehicle cottage checks. Hewitt was an experienced snowmobile operator with ten years of driving experience under his belt. On February 12, the two officers were about twelve miles north of Orillia on Severn Road where they were assigned to check local vacation properties. They were also conducting routine surveillance at the Swift Rapids Power Plant. The two officers drove their OPP snow machines north towards Severn River. The sun was bright and the temperature was mild. The conditions were perfect for snowmobiling through the bush. At about eleven forty-five in the morning, the two officers passed into Matchedash Township. At approximately 12 noon, Constable Bennett crested a hill and rounded a corner. His snow machine struck a rock on the side of the road, catapulting him from his machine and disengaging his helmet. He struck a large boulder then landed on the ground.
Hewitt rushed to his partner’s aid but was forced to leave him to get help. Upon his return, he found Bennett’s condition had deteriorated. Hewitt performed CPR on his partner to no avail. George Bennett succumbed to his injuries at twelve- fifteen p.m. from massive internal injuries to his chest. The damage to his snow machine was limited even though it traveled without a rider for about seventy-eight feet following the impact.
Members of the OPP Pipe and Drum Band were pallbearers at George’s funeral. The police presence for the ceremony in Barrie was overwhelming. George was laid to rest at St. Andrew’s Cemetery.
In a letter to the Commissioner, George’s parents passed on a message to all those who knew and worked with their son. They stated that they felt proud to know that their son had been associated with such a fine body of police officers.