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Thousands honour Toronto police officer

Thousands honour Toronto police officerPolice officers carry Constable John Zivcic's casket into his memorial service in Toronto on Monday, December 9 2013. Const. Zivcic died in a collision last week. The 34-year-old officer was responding to an emergency call about an impaired driver on Nov. 30 when his police cruiser collided with another vehicle. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

TORONTO - Thousands of police officers, dignitaries and others turned out to honour a fellow cop described as a "fine young man" whose heart now continues beating inside someone in Boston.

A long procession of uniformed officers filed into a trade centre hall followed by the flag-draped casket bearing Const. John Zivcic, who died Dec. 2, two days after he was hurt in an on-duty crash.

"We give thanks to a man I am so proud to call my brother, the unique, the intense, the sensitive, the extraordinary irreplaceable John," his older sibling Tom Zivcic said in an emotional eulogy.

"It is comforting to our family that somewhere out there John's heart will continue to beat."

As Lt.-Gov. David Onley, Premier Kathleen Wynne, Mayor Rob Ford and others looked on, Zivcic was remembered as a popular, caring young man who loved helping and protecting others.

Tom Zivcic noted that when his brother was a boy, he wanted to be a garbage collector, and followed the garbage truck around on his bicycle.

"Unfortunately with his life being cut short, he was not able to fulfil his childhood dream of becoming a garbage man," Zivcic joked even as he fought back tears.

Toronto police Chief Bill Blair described him as "a very fine young man" who was generous and compassionate.

He also praised the family's decision to donate the officer's organs, with a recipient for his "big heart" found in Boston, and recipients for his kidneys found in Toronto.

"The tragedy of John's passing has meant new hope for several families and saved several lives," Blair said.

"I would hope that we would all be inspired by the Zivcic family's example."

Onley praised Zivcic as a brave officer who gave his life in service to the people of the province, while Wynne called him "one of our best," who served "proudly and selflessly" as he took on the job of protecting the public.

"He was the kind of person who went out of his way to help people," Wynne said.

Zivcic, 34, a trained tool-and-dye maker, joined the police force in 2007.

He is survived by his mother, brother, sister, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law, who were all in attendance at the service.

"I've known him since he was born and it's a very sad day for all of us," said Nada Mogus, of Windsor, Ont., who grew up with the officer's father.

"He was a very nice boy, very friendly. It's very sad."

Zivcic was thrown from his cruiser following the Nov. 30 crash that occurred as he responded to a traffic call.

Blair said the exact circumstances were still under investigation but said he was open to anything that would make officers safer, including mandating their use of seatbelts.

The woman driving the other vehicle involved in the collision was slightly hurt.

Toronto's landmark CN Tower was to be lit in blue Monday night in Zivcic's honour and as a tribute to the city's police officers.

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