It was a routine call that would change his life. Victoria police Const. Ian Jordan was responding to a break-in alarm on Sept. 22, 1987, when his police cruiser collided with another responding cruiser.
Jordan has spent the past 30 years locked in a coma, his family and fellow police officers visiting him daily at the Glengarry extended care hospital. He died Wednesday night at age 66 after suffering complications from a lung infection.
“For him, first of all, his 30-year-long struggle is over and he’s at peace now,” said his wife, Hilary Jordan.
“I think it comes as closure,” said retired sergeant Ole Jorgensen, the officer whose car T-boned Jordan’s as the two raced to the scene.
After suffering a minor injury earlier in the shift, Jordan, then 35, was supposed to be heading home to his wife and 16-month-old son Mark.
But when a call came in about a possible break-and-enter on Fort Street at about 2 a.m., Jordan responded.
He was a block away from the old Victoria police headquarters on Fisgard Street when the two police vehicles collided at Douglas and Fisgard streets.
At the time, police controlled downtown traffic lights and would set all lights to red to allow police cars to hurry to the crime scene, said Jorgensen. The two were close friends and Jordan would often provide backup when Jorgensen, a canine officer, responded to dangerous calls.
Jorgensen said he slammed on the brakes as he saw Jordan’s car enter the intersection, but it was too late. Jorgensen suffered a serious leg injury in the crash.
Jordan suffered a permanent brain injury which left him quadriplegic and in a vegetative state, kept alive through breathing tubes.
Hilary Jordan remembers changing her son’s diapers in the halls of Victoria General Hospital in the first few months after the crash.
Whether it was his wife, his mother, extended family or Victoria police officers, Jordan has had someone by his side nearly every day for the last 30 years.
Jordan would never see his son grow up, never say goodbye to his mother, Marion, before she died in 2009.
Hilary Jordan said it was frustrating not knowing Jordan’s mental capacity, not knowing if he had any level of consciousness. “There were times we really felt he was with us and he did understand,” she said. “We like to think he was able to get a grasp of his surroundings and his family.”
Over the last three decades, Jorgensen would visit his friend once a month and on the anniversary of the crash. Jorgensen would sit at his bedside, hold his hand and talk to him.
In the first few years, the family held out hope for a miracle, that Jordan would wake up from his coma.
“But as the years went on, and there was no real change, I think we resolved ourselves to the fact that he wouldn't come back,” Jorgensen said. “We’ve all known that this day would come at some point in our lives. We never knew when.”
Victoria Police Chief Del Manak said he and other VicPD members sat with Jordan regularly, giving him updates about the department.
“It really was a sign of respect and acknowledgment of the sacrifice that Const. Jordan made back on that day,” Manak said. “And also a way to regularly remember him and remind ourselves that he is and continues to be a part of our strong-knit Victoria police family.”
Hilary Jordan met her husband when the two were in Grade 12. She remembers skipping class at Oak Bay High to meet Jordan, who was at Vic High. The two fell in love and were married by age 21.
Jordan studied law at the University of Victoria, but after he took a summer job at the Victoria Police Department, he decided to join the force after graduation. He followed in the footsteps of his father, Harry, who was an RCMP officer. Jordan wanted to eventually join the foreign service.
The Jordan family set up the Const. Ian D. Jordan Bursary fund at UVic’s Faculty of Law, which provides financial help to students with an interest in criminal law.
Jordan’s son Mark, 31, is now a criminal defence lawyer in Edmonton.
“That’s the saddest part that he didn’t get to see Mark grow up and all his wonderful accomplishments,” Hilary Jordan said. “I think his spirit and memory will live on in his son because . . . Mark is so much like his dad.”
Retired Victoria police Sgt. Doug Bond worked with Jordan and said he was compassionate and dedicated to his job. Bond said he always expected Jordan to become chief one day. “He treated everyone fairly,” Bond said. “Everyone would thank him, even the people he arrested.”
Jordan’s enduring legacy, Victoria police said in a statement, was the establishment of a trauma team. It eventually turned into the critical incident stress management team, which offers emotional support to officers after a traumatic incident.
The trauma team was made up of officers from across Greater Victoria who were trained as peer counsellors by police psychologist Dr. Mike Webster.
For 15 years, Jorgensen served as a peer counsellor on the trauma team, which he said helped him deal with his own grief.
The Victoria Police Department said a funeral with full police honours is being planned. The family is asking that donations in Jordan’s memory be made to the Canadian Cancer Society’s Tour de Rock or Broken Promises animal rescue.