A 20-year-old police officer, critically injured his first day in the field, was remembered in Augusta, Maine, Friday morning.
More than 1,000 law enforcement officers from around New England paid tribute to Fryeburg Police Officer Nathan Desjardins, who died attempting to save a drowning woman on the Saco River Memorial Day weekend.
“Your professionalism, dedication, enthusiasm, and ultimate personal sacrifice will never be forgotten,” said Fryeburg Police Chief Joshua Potvin.
Desjardins was one of two officers in a police boat crash in May. They were assisting the Maine Warden Service, responding to a report of capsized canoeists. The other Fryeburg officer was injured, but released from the hospital. Desjardins suffered serious head injuries, and died in the hospital on June 6.
“You can’t subtract the pain of this. All you can do is add love,” said Joel Wilkinson, Colonel of the Maine Warden Service.
Desjardins is the 85th Maine officer to be killed in the line of duty – and is one of, if not the youngest officer on that list, according to the spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, Steve McCausland.
“Nathan had a hero heart, and Nathan passed away with a hero heart,” said longtime friend Brooke Arthers. She grew up with Desjardins, and was his date to their high school prom.
“He always wanted to help everyone, just go above and beyond,” she remembered.
Desjardins was a rising senior at the University of New England, where he was pursuing a degree in nursing. Committed to public service, he also worked as an EMT, volunteer firefighter, and part-time police officer, while going to school.
“It’s such a loss because he was the type of person who truly could have saved a life,” said Arthers.
The cause of the boat crash that injured Desjardins is still under investigation.