A retired Saanich police sergeant who survived a 1982 bombing following a high-speed car chase, has died at the age of 74.
Walter Manuel De Sousa Craveiro died of a cardiac arrest on Jan. 5 at Victoria General Hospital. He’d been in the hospital after taking a fall at home, explained his son, Nico Craveiro. On Tuesday, he was preparing to pick up Craveiro, who lived in his garden suite, when a doctor called to say his father had passed away.
Craveiro was known as a “remarkable man” with a big heart who “would give the shirt off his back” to anyone in need, Nico said. He added that Craveiro always opened his home, heart and wallet to others without a thought.
Nico said his father never really spoke about the explosion and said he only knew details he’d heard from others.
According to a report by United Press International, in March 1982, a 35-year-old Craveiro and three other officers were pursuing Leonard Roy Emerick, 20, in a high-speed chase after he made threats against the Saanich Police Department.
After crashing through police roadblocks, Emerick drove into a ditch. Craveiro was approaching the vehicle when Emerick set off a bomb inside his car. The explosion killed Emerick, destroyed his car, blew out windows in nearby homes, sent shrapnel flying and seriously injured Craveiro. Police searched the area and found more bombs in Emerick’s home.
Nico emphasized that his father “got the brunt of the explosion.” Craveiro lost an eye and his sense of smell and taste, among other injuries, but because of his sacrifice, everyone was alright, his son said.
After the incident, Craveiro suffered from PTSD along with other health complications including chronic back pain. He even had a leftover shard of glass shrapnel removed from his face some 25 years later, Nico said.
“That accident changed his life health-wise,” Nico explained. Craveiro was self-conscious about his injuries and private about the trauma, but coped by focusing on work and “devoted himself to helping people.” He retired from the Saanich Police Department in 2004 after serving for 29 years – 22 years after the explosion.
Craveiro came to the Island from Portugal with his father as a teen, and the rest of the family – including his three siblings – arrived a year later, Nico explained. After serving in the Canadian Scottish Regiment, Craveiro joined the Saanich police in 1975.
“He loved his job” and dedicated a lot of his time to the profession, Nico said.
Craveiro was also very involved in local soccer. He played before his accident and then turned to coaching and “trying to give back.”
With the help of five others, Craveiro created a local soccer team for young people from Portugal to play and later worked as vice-president of the Vancouver Island Soccer League and had a U-21 league trophy named after him, said Nico, who played for the Vancouver Whitecaps and was assistant coach for the University of Victoria men’s soccer team.
Craveiro survived many injuries and helped so many people. Since his passing, kind messages and stories have been pouring in from the people whose lives he touched, Nico said.
“If I did half the things he did for people, I’d be a satisfied person,” he said. “It’s hard to believe that a man with such a big heart, didn’t have a heart that could handle his ailments.”
Craveiro is survived by his four sons – Carlos and his partner Cathy; David and his partner Cliff; Jason and his partner Sarah; Nico and his partner Jillian – and his grandchildren Mateo, Tobias, Luca, Alessia and Mia. The family plans to hold a private service followed by a celebration of life once restrictions on gatherings are rescinded.