RCMP Cst. Daniel Miller

RCMP Cst. Daniel Miller, 26

Cst. Daniel Miller’s death in October of 1935 was not only a tragic incident for him and his loved ones, it was a turning point in the history of the RCMP. Cst. Miller was the first member of the force to die as a result of an automobile accident.

Although the automobile had been built at the turn of the century, it wasn’t until the late twenties that they came into common use by police forces. And it wasn’t till then that cars became fast enough and powerful enough to be a lethal threat to their occupants. At this time, mechanical failure and tire problems were also more common. Seat belts were non-existent. Although this was the first death caused by a police car, many more were to follow.

Cst. Miller was driving Sgt. F. Lucas from Newcastle to Bathurst, New Brunswick, on the night of Wednesday, October 9. Witnesses say that, on approaching the French Fort Cove bridge, the police car swerved out of control and slammed sideways into the steel superstructure of the bridge. The car’s speed was estimated at 30 – 35 miles per hour. Unfortunately, Cst. Miller was thrown out of the car upon impact and was found lying underneath it bleeding profusely. He was unconscious and had suffered a severe fracture at the base of the skull. The constable was immediately put into a civilian car and rushed to Miramichi Hospital. Sgt. Lucas, was not thrown out of the car, was badly cut around the face and head. He too was taken to the hospital.

Cst. Miller lingered unconscious for five days and died on Monday, October 14. Sgt. Lucas survived the crash. An investigation blamed the accident on a broken tie rod that caused a loss of control of the car’s steering.

Cst. Miller served almost four years in the RCMP, all in New Brunswick. Born on a farm near Moosomin, Saskatchewan, Miller had been a farmer and teamster before joining the Force at Regina. He was a single man, survived by his widowed mother. He was buried in St. Paul’s Cemetery in Wapella, Saskatchewan.

IN THE LINE OF DUTY – The honour Roll of the RCMP since 1873.