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Obituary: Walter Craveiro, Saanich officer badly hurt in 1982 when man detonated dynamite

Saanich police officer Walter Craveiro was only three metres from a car that had gone into a ditch after a police chase when the car suddenly exploded.
Walter Craveiro, who died Jan. 6 at age 74, returned to policing after a 1982 near-death experience, retiring in 2004. [Family photo]

Saanich police officer Walter Craveiro was only three metres from a car that had gone into a ditch after a police chase when the car suddenly exploded.

It was 1982, and the chase had begun in Victoria after the driver tried to avoid a police roadblock, then ended up in the ditch by Calumet Street in Saanich.

Craveiro was about to arrest the driver when the 20-year-old man suddenly detonated dynamite in his car, dying at the scene.

Craveiro, who was the closest officer to the vehicle when it blew up, was seriously injured in the explosion.

He lost his left eye, his ability to taste and smell diminished and he had chronic back pain, said his son Nico Craveiro.

“He was in the hospital for quite some time.”

Many years later, a shard of glass from the blast was removed from his head.

Nonetheless, Craveiro, who died Tuesday of heart failure at age 74 at Victoria General Hospital, later returned to policing, a job he loved, retiring in 2004.

“He was a very caring man with a very big heart. He would give the shirt off his back to people,” his son said.

“He always tried to advocate with people who could not advocate for themselves.”

Three other officers at the scene were treated for cuts, bruises and shock.

An inquest heard that the young man felt police were harassing him and was disappointed he couldn’t meet with them. According to a Times Colonist report from the time, his probation officer said the man told him: “That’s it. I’m a walking bomb. Goodbye.”

The probation officer said the man was prepared “to take a judge or policeman with him,” the story said.

Police said later they were taking steps to better inform the public on how to lay a complaint against police.

Nico Craveiro said his father moved to Canada in his late teens from the Azores in Portugal with his family. He joined the Canadian Scottish Regiment and then the Saanich police.

The aftermath of the explosion was not a frequent subject in the family, he said. “My dad was a very private person.”

Walter Craverio treasured a wooden plaque given to him for youth and community services between 1983 and 1987, his son said.

His father, nicknamed Big Daddy, particularly enjoyed working with young people. He also advocated for safer housing and better conditions for sex-trade workers.

“He really pushed for safety for sex-trade workers before that was very thought of,” his son said.

Walter Craveiro served as vice-president of the Vancouver Island Soccer League and a trophy for under-21 players has been named in his honour.

As well, he was one of eight founders of Sagres FC, a Portuguese-based soccer team that played in Victoria. This team was around for decades, until a few years ago, said Nico Craveiro.

After retiring from policing, he opened the Cafe Casa Antiga on Alpha Street, and when it came to staff, he often hired those who needed some help, his son said.

Craveiro ran the cafe for a couple of years and then bought a small place in the Azores, close to where he grew up, spending about half the year there.

Walter Craveiro is survived by his second wife, Connie Craveiro, sons Jason, David, Carlos and Nico, and five grandchildren.

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