Andy Bradsell earned his money protecting others from harm. On the weekend, the friendly, larger-than-life Canadian personal security guard was killed by militants in Iraq while doing that job.
Mr. Bradsell, 33, a former British marine who lived in Victoria, was killed in an ambush in the northern Iraqi city Sunday, along with a colleague from Britain. They were protecting engineers at a power facility.
At the time of his death, he was halfway through a two-month contract to protect General Electric engineers. It was his first overseas assignment since he moved to Victoria in 2001 with his wife, former television news anchor Tasha Larson.
Ms. Larson was laid off late last year from Victoria station known as the New VI. News director Clint Nickerson said last night that Ms. Larson, mother of two children of her own and stepmother to one of Mr. Bradsell's children, has been stoic since learning of her husband's death Sunday afternoon.
He described Mr. Bradsell, as a "big strong, gregarious, very affable, larger-than-life soldier of fortune" who had been a former commander in the British Royal Marines. "He loved life," he said.
Mr. Bradsell specialized in personal bodyguard work. Although he had difficulty finding work in Victoria, "he was very skilled at his job," Mr. Nickerson said.
He said Ms. Larson told him that her husband died doing his job, putting his own vehicle between the Iraqi gunmen and the engineer the security guards were hired to protect. Mr. Bradsell was working for Olive Security, a British international security company. He was wearing body armour and was armed with both an AK-47 and a handgun.
"Andy was in the rear vehicle and they were escorting the client to the power plant," Ms. Larson told the Victoria Times Colonist. "When they were close to the power plant three vehicles with armed men came along side."
Mr. Nickerson said the couple lived in Edmonton for some time before moving to Victoria. They recently had their first child together. John Hunter Bradsell is now eight months old.
Although Ms. Larson's tenure at the station ended in November, she continued to have many friends there, Mr. Nickerson said. "Staff members are devastated. They are summoning all the courage they can."
Mr. Bradsell was retiring from security work at the end of his contract in Iraq and the two were going to make plans about what part of the world to make home, Ms. Larson told the Times Colonist.
As a child, Mr. Bradsell moved to Canada from England and grew up in Alberta. He returned to England later and joined the marines.
Mr. Bradsell is at least the third Canadian to have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion. Last August, two Canadian aid workers died in an attack on the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad.
In New York yesterday, UN officials said Secretary-General Kofi Annan rejected his Canadian deputy's offer to resign over a blistering report on the headquarters bombing, but he did fire his security chief.
Mr. Annan asked UN security co-ordinator Tun Myat of Myanmar to resign after the report concluded that he "appeared oblivious to the developing crisis" in Baghdad before the Aug. 19 blast, which killed 22 people including mission chief Sergio Vieira de Mello, UN chief spokesman Fred Eckhard told a news conference.
Mr. Annan also wrote a critical letter to Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette, who chaired the steering group on Iraq at the time the world body decided last May that its senior staff could return to work after the U.S.-led invasion. She submitted her resignation but Mr. Annan refused to accept it.