To those who knew him, Tony Harrison was a walking miracle.

The 45-year-old — who was killed when a van crossed the yellow line into his lane early Sunday and struck his motorcycle head-on — was fondly remembered by family and friends as a compassionate man who had cheated death once before.

“He was a caring man. A one-of-a-kind and the best brother a girl could have,” said sister Karen Brown.

“He was witty and he was strong. Man was he strong. He survived being shot in the head at point-blank range.”

In 1994, Harrison went to a northeast pub to buy off-sales beer for his birthday party when the attack took place.

“Tony was talking to the manager when this guy comes up and starts picking a fight with them,” recalled Brown.

“The guy was high on cocaine and had a nine-millimeter on him. When the fight moved outside, the guy shot Tony.”

The shooting was part of a Sun special report that year that looked at the prevalence of guns on city streets. Harrison was profiled as a victim as part of the story.

Harrison — who owned Red Dragon Tattoo in Calgary — survived the shooting despite nearly insurmountable odds.

“He worked his butt off to get back to normal. Through rehab, surgeries and infections, he did the impossible,” said Brown, who is a nurse.

That incident inspired Harrison to help others struggling with brain injury.

“He’s like a big brother to a mentally challenged man and four times a week he takes him to run errands or just go for ice cream,” said Brown.

“That’s just the kind of guy Tony was. He was a shirt-off-his-back kind of guy and he always had a special way with mentally challenged people and children.

Harrison was also described as a caring father to his grown daughter Brittany.

The Chestermere resident was riding his Victory Vegas motorcycle eastbound on 17 Ave. S.E. near the Stoney Trail connector when a westbound van crossed into his lane on the undivided highway. Harrison was proclaimed dead at the scene.

The driver of the van was uninjured. Kelly James York, 42 of Calgary faces impaired driving causing death and hit and run charges.

At an impromptu gathering of friends in the community of McKenzie, the conversation revolved around Harrison’s ability to bring people together.

Friend Tammy Bourget recalled how, just recently, Harrison had made it a goal to get a group of quarreling friends to set aside their differences and not throw away years of friendship.

“That’s the way Tony was. He was just an all-around caring guy and that was his biggest goal recently. To just get everyone to get along,” said Bourget.

Yesterday, Harrison’s friends were all together — their differences laid to rest.

Bourget says Harrison’s goal in life, came true with his death.

Source: The Calgary Sun


Last updated on: 2014-06-14 | Link to this post