Art Baumunk retires from CTV Kitchener after 35 years
After more than three decades in front of the camera, Thursday was Art Baumunk’s final day at CTV Kitchener.
Baumunk is retiring after 35 years in Kitchener, many of which have been spent covering crimes and court cases across southwestern Ontario.
Of the hundreds of cases he’s covered, a few stand out, including the tragic death of Waterloo Regional Police Const. Dave Nicholson and 12-year-old Mark Gage.
On Aug. 12, 1998, Gage was swimming in Cambridge’s Parkhill Dam when he was pulled into an underwater sluice and trapped.
Nicholson was part of the police rescue team called in to search for Gage. Tragically, he too became trapped in the sluice.
Efforts to pull the pair out of the dam were unsuccessful.
“It was a very difficult story,” remembers Baumunk.
“You could see the sense of tragedy in the eyes of those that were on the scene trying to help as best they could.”
In the days following Aug. 12, Baumunk spent countless hours at the scene.
One of the lasting images to stick with him from that time is the generosity of others who spent time at the dam – often members of the public offering food, coffee, or moral support to the police on scene.
Another story to resonate with Baumunk is the murder of Nadia Gehl.
On Feb. 2, 2009, Gehl was shot while walking to a bus stop, on her way to work.
Ronald Cyr, Gehl’s husband, was convicted of her murder in 2012, as were Nashat Qahwash and Dennis Zvolensky.
Baumunk says the apparent “senselessness” of the crime – it was six months before the suspects were arrested, and more than two years until details of the murder plot came out in court – struck a chord with both him and viewers.
“You had this young woman who was beloved by so many people leaving her home, thinking she’s safe, walking down a bus path – and then somebody comes up and shoots her from behind,” he says.
Despite many of his stories showing some of the worst aspects of human nature, Baumunk says he’s simultaneously been able to see people pulling together and supporting each other.
“You can’t lose sight of the values of respect, compassion and humility,” he says.
“Often these stories aren’t pleasant, but they’re stories that have to be told.”
The staff of CTV Kitchener would like to thank the Chicago Blackhawks, Baumunk’s favourite team, for winning their fifth Stanley Cup in the week of his retirement.