Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Teens die after car rear-ended on highway

On way home from church event

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Tire tracks and debris mark the spot where two teens were killed and two others injured in a motor-vehicle accident on Saturday.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Tire tracks and debris mark the spot where two teens were killed and two others injured in a motor-vehicle accident on Saturday. Photo Store

AUSTIN -- One had dreams of getting his wings and becoming a commercial airline pilot.

A second was in high school and helping his father sell car parts.

Tragically, both of their young lives ended at the side of the Trans-Canada Highway west of MacGregor after a pickup truck police believe was driven by an employee with the Office of the Fire Commissioner rear-ended their car as they were both eastbound on Saturday afternoon.

Charles Friesen, 17, formerly of Austin, but recently living in Winnipeg, was pronounced dead at the scene, while Daden Bruhm, 14, of Sidney, was rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries, but died shortly after, RCMP Sgt. Line Karpish said.

Two others -- Jayver Krahn and Ryan Lloyd -- were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Krahn has been released, while the status of Lloyd was not known on Sunday.

What all four had in common was they all went to school -- or had graduated -- from MacGregor Collegiate Institute in MacGregor, a town within sight of the crash scene.

According to area residents, they had just attended a Youth for Christ event.

"He (Friesen) was so happy," recalled Lindsay Zenz, who went to school with him at the collegiate.

"He was at a Youth for Christ magic fair. He said he was really happy to spend the whole day making doughnuts with his nephew," Zenz said. "He was also supposed to go pick up his car on Tuesday. He said it's old and it's junky, but it's a car."

Pastor Colin Bell of the Austin Evangelical Fellowship, which Friesen's family attends, said, "It's a large loss for our community.

"It's not an easy time for our youth."

Bell said Friesen was "full of life. He loved a joke and he loved to be the life of the party -- without any alcohol. His mom was telling me he wanted to get his commercial pilot's licence."

Bell said the church was hosting a get-together for youth to come together and pray for Friesen.

"The (area) school and the youth group have been affected before with another young person dying two years ago and another young man still recovering from an ATV accident last year," said Bell.

Sidney resident Joseph Swan, who became friends with Bruhm's family when they moved there about five years ago, said, "He was a pretty good boy.

"He travelled a lot with his dad picking up old cars. They would take them apart and they were selling parts. I had him cut my grass sometimes. He was quite friendly," Swan said.

No one spoken to Sunday knows for sure why the four were heading east towards MacGregor and nobody had heard anything about what caused the collision.

RCMP said on Sunday they had no new information to release on the collision.

Pieces of the vehicles, as well as medical equipment, lay strewn in the ditch west of MacGregor on the south side of the highway between the road and the railway track.

There were deep tire tracks gouged into the ground and a few skid marks were on the highway.

RCMP did say alcohol is not considered a contributing factor, but "charges are being contemplated," Karpish said.

A spokesman for the Office of the Fire Commissioner said the 45-year-old employee from Elie was working at the time, but was not driving to a fire.

"This is a tragedy and we send our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those involved," the spokesman said Sunday. "The RCMP are investigating and it would not be appropriate to make any further comment on the incident at this time."

Andy Dyck, his wife Jenny, and Brett Friesen -- no relation to Charles -- work with youth at the church in Austin and have many memories of Friesen.

Andy Dyck said Friesen made sure when he came to town from Winnipeg this weekend, he went to a youth event at the church on Friday.

"Before he graduated and left, he was always the first one here on youth nights and the last to leave. He was one of our core guys," Dyck said.

"He was home for the weekend and he said he wanted to see everyone," Jenny said.

Pine Creek School Division board chairwoman Loreley Fehr said, "We're praying for the families and the students and the staff."

Counsellors will be on hand at three of the schools Monday, including in MacGregor and the towns closest to the MacGregor Collegiate Institute.

Counsellors will also be on call for the other schools further away in the district, school division superintendent Brian Gouriluk said Sunday night.

"You never know what the connection will be and you want to make sure that if a child is feeling a loss, you have the supports in place," he said.

Gouriluk also delivered a formal statement over the phone from his home last night: "Pine Creek School Division extends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the two fine young men who died tragically in a traffic accident. Both were part of the MacGregor Collegiate Institute family, one as a recent graduate and the other as a current student. As school resumes Monday, the school division will have additional personnel at school sites as the students come to terms with the loss of their friends."

 

-- with files from Alexandra Paul

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 7, 2013 A6

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Updated on Monday, October 7, 2013 at 8:04 AM CDT: Replaces photo

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