Family, friends, police officers past and present and community members gathered Sunday for an emotional memorial.

Two decades ago, Cst. David Nicholson was killed in the line of duty.

He was part of a team searching for Mark Gage, a 12-year-old boy, in the Parkhill Dam.

When Cst. Nicholson went into the water, his oxygen tank became wedged.

Three days later, his body, holding that of Gage, was recovered.

“Mark Gage: his memory reminds us of the innocence, the curiosity, the playfulness of youth,” Police Chief Bryan Larkin said at the memorial, his voice cracking.

Cst. Nicholson was the first officer in the Waterloo Region Police Service’s history to die in the line of duty.

The seating at Mill Race Park was packed as well over 100 people turned out on Sunday to pay their respects and celebrate the lives lost.

“It’s very heartwarming to see how many people came and to see the support,” said Mitchel Nicholson, Cst. Nicholson’s oldest son.

A memorial wind-chime as tall as a person was unveiled as a tribute.

“The wind chime is really a symbol of peace, and a symbol of honouring the lives of David and Mark,” said Larkin.

It is to be erected in the garden at police headquarters.

With reporting from Heather Senoran.