At the Salem Woods Trailer Park in Colborne, Ont, just west of Brighton, those who knew Helen and Tom Ryan were shocked to learn of their deaths.
Police say Friday evening, Tom Ryan, 70, shot his wife, and then officers called to the scene shot Mr. Ryan.
The unlikely scene of these deaths was a triage room in the emergency department of Northumberland Hills Hospital. Police say Mr. Ryan had been taken to hospital in an ambulance from their home in a trailer at Salem Woods Trailer Park. Mrs. Ryan, 76, arrived in a separate ambulance later Friday evening.
“It’s kinda sad,” said neighbour Al Francis. It’s kinda sad to see someone go through that.”
The details about what happened earlier in the day that might have led to the deaths are yet unclear. Neighbours describe the couple as “normal,” and owners of the park report no sign of violence. Emergency services personnel say they were familiar with the couple, as firefighters had been called on more than one occasion to assist Mr. Ryan, who had difficulty lifting himself into the trailer without assistance.
“Since they moved in, we really didn’t see much of them at all because they stayed inside their trailer,” Francis said. “I think there were some health issues there. Things aren’t going the way he wants them to go and I think that’s when he made a decision about what he did.”
What is clear from police is that both Mr. and Mrs. Ryan were lying side-by-side on separate gurneys in the Northumberland Hills Emerg Department around 11 p.m. Friday evening. Police say Mr. Ryan shot his wife in the head, and then was shot by two Cobourg Police officers who were called to the scene. Witnesses say they heard between eight and ten gunshots. There were no other injuries reported.
Neighbours at the trailer park say the couple was planning to leave for their ranch in Texas on Saturday. The Facebook profile of Helen Ryan reveals that her husband had been diagnosed with cancer in 2015. There was no update available.
“It’s sad, it’s sad, especially when you see them, you know, a life like that at their age,” said neighbour David Melanson.
Tom Ryan weighed around 400 pounds. He was said to have no feeling in his legs, as well as a spinal injury. His wife’s health was also failing, neighbours said.
“She was a sweet old lady and just smiled all the time. You just see a couple like that and it breaks your heart,” Melanson said.
Helen Ryan was born and raised in Campbellford, Ont. She studied opera at the Royal Conservatory of music in Toronto. The couple spent summers in Northumberland, and winters near Houston, Texas.