October 28, 2015 - 9:00 PM
KELOWNA - A Kelowna man who was brutally murdered on a packed, local bus last year will be honoured by drivers across the Okanagan Friday.
Caesar Rosales was 55 years old when he was killed Oct. 30, 2014, during his regular commute home after work. Exactly one year later bus drivers from Penticton to Vernon will observe a moment of silence and wear black ribbons in his honour.
Scott Lovell, president of local 1722 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, says his drivers don’t see passengers as customers, but something much more.
“We all live here,” he says. “It’s a small town and this is a big deal in our community. We’ve always prided ourselves that we’re not just bus drivers, we’re driving around our neighbours, our cousins, we’re one big family.”
This will be the second moment of silence observed by bus drivers who have understandably been shaken by something many felt would never happen in a city like Kelowna. On Nov. 8 at 10 a.m. all transit buses between Peachland and Lake Country pulled over for a moment of silence and respect.'
Rosales was a regular user of public transportation to and from his job at KF Aerospace, where he worked as a business systems analyst since moving to Kelowna two years ago. A coworker describes him as intelligent, caring, gentle and passionate.
“He took the opportunity to live life to the fullest — skydiving, bungee jumping, zip lining, hiking, and walking the CN Tower — all in the last few years,” director of human resources Grant Stevens says. “He loved to film and share his adventures, creating his own YouTube channel.”
Lovell says he and other drivers got to know Rosales well in the two years he took the #8 bus from KF Aerospace.
“He was very well liked by our drivers,” he says. “I remember him. He was polite, genuine, always had a big smile on his face. This is very difficult for us.”
The news of the unprovoked killing shook the community as well.
Transit user Joann Maranda said last year while she’s not worried about another attack, she considered it a wakeup call to be more vigilant.
“You just never know what can happen,” she said. “It’s easy to zone out when you’re on the bus but I’ll be paying more attention to who’s around me from now on.”
Despite a lack of security cameras onboard, police said they had a suspect in mind within hours. The next day, Tyler Jack Newton, 25, was arrested and has since been charged with second degree murder. It is alleged he attacked Rosales from behind and slashed his throat with a knife. More than a dozen other bus riders witnessed the horrifying act.
Newton is currently in custody awaiting the start of his trial, which has not yet been set.
Lovell says they won’t be able to start the healing process until the man responsible is behind bars.
“Our driver who was driving that day was subpoenaed and the feelings start coming up again,” he says. “He will bear this burden the rest of his life. He’ll never be the same.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015