In a ditch south of Beaumont littered with broken glass and twisted plastic, Adam Gilbert reached into the snow to pick out an ID badge belonging to his best friend, Brad Arsenault.

The badge was lying in the snow where Arsenault, 18, Kole Novak, 18, and Thaddeus Lake, 22, were killed in a horrific crash that has shaken the small town south of Edmonton.

"They were the best of guys," Gilbert said of his friends Arsenault and Novak. "It's sad that it happened to them, but they're together now so the best die young, I guess."

Both Arsenault and Novak just graduated from Ecole Secondaire Beaumont Composite High School last June. Lake lived in Leduc and attended Leduc Composite High School. While he never met Lake, Gilbert said Arsenault and Novak were popular at the school and well liked in the community.

Several flowers have been planted in the snow below the 70 km/h speed sign near where the trio died around 2:45 a.m. Saturday. Beaumont RCMP responded to a rollover in the south ditch of Highway 625, just west of 60 Street, where they located two vehicles involved in the collision, a Dodge Ram pickup and a Pontiac Grand Am.

Both vehicles were believed to be travelling eastbound at the time of the collision

Emergency services arriving on scene pronounced the three young men dead. A fourth man, a 28-year-old from Beaumont and believed to be the driver of the Dodge Ram, was transported to hospital by STARS Air Ambulance, where he remained in critical condition.

Gilbert said he was in a bar on Whyte Avenue on Saturday night celebrating his birthday, when he got a phone call from a friend asking if he'd seen the news on Facebook. Gilbert said he had been wondering why Arsenault hadn't shown up to the party.

"It was my birthday and I had just talked to him on Thursday, and he said he was going to come out and hang out," Gilbert said. When he got the bad news, he looked at the text conversation he and Arsenault had just shared and wanted to believe it wasn't true.

"That was really the hardest part, looking at text messages from that night," he said. "I just dropped on my knees, and for the rest of the day I just locked myself in my room."

Despite attending different schools, Gilbert and he and Arsenault grew up together and became fast friends because they lived so close to each other. Gilbert said he was friends with Novak, too, as it was rare to see one without the other. They were both extreme sports fans.

"Brad was always the active kid. He played soccer, hockey, skateboarding, snowboarding. Anything, the kid would be there doing it with us and Kole was the same as Brad. He was a funny guy. Skater, snowboarder. Those two were always together for everything."

Gilbert said they even moved in with each other after school. The pair often drove around together in Arsenault's Grand Am. While police say speed and alcohol may be factors in the collision, Gilbert said he doesn't believe his friend was drinking and driving.

"He's always been the one to use his head," Gilbert said, adding Arsenault always wore his seat belt. "If he was drinking and driving, it would be a shock."

For now, Gilbert said his friends are pulling together to support one another. After laying his own flowers below the sign, Gilbert planned to visit Arsenault's parents to give them the badge he found and support them during this difficult time.

Friends and family planned to meet Sunday night at the skatepark in Beaumont (50 Street and 55 Avenue) for a vigil.

Mike Lake, MP for Millwoods-Beaumont, tweeted his condolences Sunday.

"Say a prayer for the people of Beaumont tonight," he said. "A beautiful and resilient community facing significant heartbreak over the last 48 hours."

An RCMP collision analyst along with a collision investigative team were at the crash site assisting with the investigation Saturday morning.

No charges have been laid at this time. The collision remains under investigation.

Source: The Beaumont News


Last updated on: 2012-07-18 | Link to this post