TRU international students victims in fatal Kamloops hit and run | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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TRU international students victims in fatal Kamloops hit and run

November 04, 2019 - 2:03 PM

The police tape has been taken down at the scene of a crash in Kamloops that left two men dead on Sunday, but the impact will be felt for quite some time.

A pickup truck hit a car early Sunday morning, Nov. 3, in downtown Kamloops at 1 Avenue and Battle Street, killing two men in their 20s inside the car. The two other occupants of the car were taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The driver of the pickup left the scene of the crash.

Police said the owner of the pickup involved in the crash was arrested later in the day, but he has since been released from custody with no charges at this time.

Kamloops RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jodi Shelkie said in a media release issued today, Nov. 4, the RCMP investigation into the crash continues and the B.C. Coroners Service is conducting a "concurrent fact-finding investigation into these deaths."

"Due to the privacy of the deceased, identity is not being confirmed or released by either the RCMP or B.C. Coroners Service," Shelkie said.

Thompson Rivers University president Brett Fairbairn said in a statement posted on the university's website today, Nov. 4, that the four occupants of the car involved in the fatal crash were current and former international students.

“It is with great sadness and regret that I have informed our university community that four of our students – current and alumni – were involved in a tragic motor vehicle accident in downtown Kamloops early Sunday morning,” Fairbairn says in a statement. “Our deepest thoughts are with their families and loved ones, and on behalf of TRU, I offer our condolences. As these were international students and alumni, our concern is also for our colleagues at TRU World,” Fairbairn says in the statement. “We grieve with them, along with others – friends, classmates and professors.”

A group of friends at a nearby apartment are left shaken and confused by what unfolded after the deadly crash.

Alex Rocheleau lives in an apartment building on Battle Street and Second Avenue with her partner, and the pair had invited friends from Kelowna to stay the night. They were enjoying a few drinks when they heard what they thought was a minor accident.

“I saw this guy who was walking down the street towards our building. He was speed walking down the street and I thought… it’s weird that he’s walking away from the accident, most people go towards it,” Rocheleau says.

Although they saw the man leaving the scene, they couldn’t see the actual accident itself. Rocheleau and her friends had thought that if the man was fleeing, it was likely that he had hit a parked car as there was nothing but silence after the collision.

“I still thought maybe he hit a car and maybe he walked away... it was all kind of weird because it was quiet. It was so quiet. With the accident itself, there was no honking horns or anything, it was just a brake, a crash and afterwards just quiet,” Rocheleau says.

Rocheleau says although she was concerned by the incident, the group didn’t think anyone was in danger.

“I’m a nurse and a friend is a respiratory therapist and he was going to run out and see what was going on but we had all been drinking. I didn’t hear any screams or crying at all so I was like, ‘I think they’re OK. I think it was just a little accident.’ We just heard the brakes and then hitting something. We just thought he hit a parked car,” Rocheleau says.

The group realized it was more serious than they thought when the first responders attended the scene. Rocheleau and her friends had believed the man may have been intoxicated and left the scene, or believed police may have found something suspicious in his vehicle.

“Shortly after, the ambulance and fire truck showed up and people were searching around our property in bulletproof vests and that’s when I called the (police) station and let them know that I saw a guy speed walking away,” Rocheleau says.

When the group of friends awoke the next morning, they heard the news reports of two people dead and they realized the severity of what had happened.

“Finding out that two people died and two people were injured, that did not cross my mind, I wasn’t thinking that way at all. And this guy walking away, I wasn’t thinking that he had killed someone and left,” Rocheleau says.

Rocheleau says she heard of a person who ran to the scene immediately and notes that the first responders were there in minutes, but she is still running over the events in her mind. She says that she will not hesitate to respond if ever such an incident occurs again.

The respiratory therapist and another friend went out to check the scene in the morning, while Rocheleau kept going through the scenario in her head. She says the group had breakfast together, although the events that had unfolded weighed heavy on them.

“It was basically just me standing in the corner in shock about the whole thing and running through the whole thing, what we could’ve done and what we should’ve done,” Rocheleau says. “It’s weird how close it was, I didn’t realize it was right there. All of it was weird, just thinking that one block away there’s people dead in a car.”

If you or someone you know is struggling after a traumatic event, call the Mental Health Support line at 310-6789, or have an online conversation with Crisis Centre Chat.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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