Minutes after two St. Albert Grade 8 students bid each other goodbye at the end of school on Thursday, one was in a collision that took his life.
“I saw him at my locker,” Aiden McLean, 14, said Friday.
“We walked down the stairs together and I said bye and he said bye.
“It’s a lot more difficult to live with now that I know what happened afterwards.”
His 13-year-old friend died after his bicycle was in a collision with a van at Gresham Boulevard and Grenfell Avenue just after 3 p.m. He had been wearing a helmet.
On Friday, McLean and 50 other students from Sir George Simpson Junior High went back to the scene, where a roadside memorial was growing.
Students laid flowers and stuffed toys beside the road. Lacrosse gloves and a soccer ball marked the teen’s love for all sports.
McLean led the tributes to his friend, recounting some of his favourite memories.
“He was a funny guy, he was always happy. Always available to give you a helping hand,” McLean said.
“He was a force to be reckoned with in everything he did.”
RCMP traffic services and a collision analyst are investigating the crash, which involved a van operated by a local daycare. No children were in the van at the time, police said.
No charges are pending. Drugs, alcohol and road conditions are not believed to be factors, police said.
RCMP cautioned that the type of investigation being conducted can be lengthy. The final report from the collision analyst may take up to a month to be completed, they said.
Counsellors were at the school Friday to support staff and students.
“I couldn’t believe the number of students who came up to the principal and hugged him and said ‘I’m so sorry.’ It’s a very supportive school community,” said Paula Power, a spokesperson for St. Albert Public Schools.
St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse and city manager Kevin Scoble offered condolences to the victim’s family.
Crouse said he has asked Scoble to conduct a review with the aim of preventing similar tragedies.
“It’s a review of of motorists in cycle-active areas,” Crouse said. “It’s a review of back-alley areas. It’s a review of many categories.
“I think you can look at these things from a systemic point of view, from a broad system point of view, and say, ‘Is there something in your community that you have to do differently?’ “
Scoble, in a statement, said the city “will examine and assess roadway engineering, pedestrian, cyclist and motorist education in schools and for the public, as well as enforcement. Best practices that enhance pedestrian/cyclist safety will also be reviewed.
“The city will determine specific actions in the coming weeks once the RCMP investigation is completed.”
Police are not releasing the victim’s name.