As a young boy, Const. John Zivcic was attracted to sirens and emergency vehicles.
Later on in life, while having lunch with his older brother Tom, he was struck by the presence of two Emergency Task Forces (ETF) officers, one of them very imposing in stature.
That encounter inspired Zivcic to join the Toronto Police Service six years ago and, though he didn’t fulfill his dream of becoming a tactical officer, it was ironic that ETF Sgt. Terry Sidora – who was off-duty -- and his 15-year old son were first on the scene when Zivcic was critically injured in a vehicular collision.
In a tearful tribute, Tom Zivcic spoke glowingly of his brother and the close bond they shared.
“He was pure, respectful, honest and intense and he had a God-given gift of sincerity,” said the older brother. “…He had a contagious smile and sparkle in his eyes and there was an energy about him that even he could barely contain. He lived his life based on principle – right was right and wrong was wrong. He was the essence of compassion, duty and style.”
He was pure, respectful, honest and intense and he had a God-given gift of sincerity
Ontario’s Premier Kathleen Wynne and Lt. Gov. David Onley joined thousands at Zivcic’s funeral at the Toronto Congress Centre.
“In some measurable way, he will live on in the minds of us all as a member of the Toronto Police Service,” said Onley.
“In short, John was dedicated to the service and protection of the people of Toronto…He loved police work. He knew the risks and rewards associated with this job, and he accepted the sacrifices that one demanded of those who have given their lives to service. His death, in the line of duty, affects us all deeply. We mourn the loss of a young life and we grieve the lost promise of a bright future. He joins the roll-call of those we remember as heroes in life, not death. At the same time, we celebrate his memory in admiration of the qualities he lived by.”
Chief Bill Blair said Zivcic was a valued member of the Service who lost his life, tragically, while responding to a call for service.
“Every day, members of our Service and members of police services across the province of Ontario and throughout the country answer the call to duty,” said Blair.
“They have chosen to serve and protect the public. They do it with a shared sense of pride and purpose and they do it with the full knowledge of the risks inherent to our profession. They do it with dedication and they do it with honour.
“It’s a noble calling and one which attracts the very best to its ranks…It’s a calling that requires courage and compassion and it’s a calling for which Police Constable John Zivcic was very well suited. He certainly looked the part. He was a tall young man with a winning smile and an endearing personality. He was outgoing, charming, keen and capable. He was very popular among his colleagues and recognized by his supervisors for his excellent work ethic and for his remarkable potential.”
Blair said Zivcic’s passing has left the Service with a profound sense of loss and sadness.
“Yet his service and dedication can inspire us with a sense of pride that he was one of ours, a member of our Service and our profession,” the Chief added.
“As we gather to remember his service and his sacrifice, we can acknowledge that he was truly a hero in life and, like all our heroes, he will be remembered.”
Four years ago, Blair presented a commendation to Zivcic for assisting a young Canadian who was involved in an accident in Cuba, where the officer was vacationing. He used his shirt to stop the bleeding, took the young woman to hospital and used his credit card to pay her medical bill before she was discharged.
The 22 Division officer died at St. Michael’s hospital on Monday, Dec. 2, after he was involved in a collision on Bloor St. W., near the West Mall, two days earlier.
Every day, members of our Service and members of police services across the province of Ontario and throughout the country answer the call to duty
“This was a police officer just doing his job by responding to a call for help and assistance,” said Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino, the city’s Police Chief from 2000 to 2005.
“When you put it all together, it’s that kind of humanity that overwhelms us. I have been to far too many of these funerals to take them for granted. They are very profound and it’s the appropriate recognition that I think society needs to pay to these very brave men and women.”
Supt. Frank Bergen, 22 Division’s unit commander, told the audience of Zivcic’s valuable contributions and said the Division’s new gym will be dedicated in his memory.
He told the deceased officer’s brother that his obvious connection to physical fitness and his shared workouts with his brother are the best way for 22 Division members to connect with their departed colleague.
Zivcic’s body will be cremated on Thursday, December 12, after a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Croatian Church in Welland.
His kidneys were donated to two recipients in the Greater Toronto Area and his heart was offered to an individual in Boston.
Zivcic is the 41st Toronto police officer to have died in the line of duty and the first since Sgt. Ryan Russell succumbed to his injuries, after being struck by a stolen snowplow, on January 12, 2011.