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Family seeks answers as man in mental health crisis presumed dead after interaction with RCMP

According to his family, Don Bennett was an avid horseman, and loving father and grandfather with a trademark boisterous personality.

"He would light up any room that he entered into,” said Nicky McIntosh, one of his two daughters. “He just had that kind of personality that was infectious."

According to RCMP, officers went to an address on 0 Avenue in Langley on Friday afternoon to do a wellness check after someone reported an individual was distraught and made concerning comments.

McIntosh confirmed to CTV News that person was her father.

In a news release, the BC RCMP said the arriving officers reported shots fired.

RCMP said an hours-long standoff followed – and it ended with Bennett presumed deceased in the rubble of a structure fire that also spread to a number of vehicles, including two police cars.

"I'm sorry that it had to end this way. He was only 66. I'm sorry I couldn't have done more,” McIntosh said as she wiped tears from her face. “When people are struggling with mental health it can be hard to know what to do, what not to do, and how to support them."

According to McIntosh, RCMP had a telecom company block incoming calls to her father’s number during the standoff, and that meant no family members could reach him as he was surrounded by the Emergency Response Team while in apparent mental health crisis.

Several torched vehicles could be seen Saturday morning at the scene of a police incident that unfolded near the U.S.-Canada border in Langley Friday evening. (CTV)"The only other person that I was in contact with actively during that time was my sister, and we both kind of knew that it wasn't going to end well,” McIntosh said.

She added that since her father’s presumed death in the fire, RCMP have told her very little about how her father’s final hours unfolded – and have not said whether any mental health professionals were called in to try to de-escalate the situation.

With her father’s passing, McIntosh’s nine and 11-year-old daughters will now grow up without their grandfather.

Asked how difficult it was to have a conversation with her girls about Bennet’s death, McIntosh broke down in tears.

“I haven’t had it yet,” she sobbed. “I haven’t had that conversation yet.”

The Independent Investigations office, B.C.’s police watchdog, is now looking at what role RCMP did or did not play in Bennett’s death.

In the meantime, his family is left to mourn a gregarious, outgoing patriarch who they loved dearly. Top Stories

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