Three international students from Nigeria who died when the car they were in was crashed into by a pickup truck are being remembered as kind, fun-loving individuals.
Daniel Okocha, 22, and Feyisola Adebowale, 28, died at the scene. Oluwatosin Adeojo, 31, passed away in hospital this past Tuesday.
Police say the pickup truck ran a stop sign on Battle Street before striking the southbound red sedan on First Avenue.
The car was carrying the three men and a fourth individual who sustained non-life threatening injuries.
All four are Thompson Rivers University students or alumni.
Friends and family of the deceased are now trying to co-ordinate funeral arrangements and raise funds to cover costs.
Each of the men had either graduated or were about to graduate from their post-secondary studies in business.
Okocha’s older brother, David Okocha, who lives in Alexandria, Va., said words cannot describe what his brother meant to him.
“He might be dead, but he still lives in my heart,” Okocha told KTW, adding his younger brother was known as a vibrant and talented person.
He said Daniel was set to graduate from TRU in April and aspired to work in Canada and become the chief financial officer of a company before returning to Nigeria to run for political office.
Okocha said he was very close with his brother, who recently celebrated a birthday.
“He was my best friend. He was meant to be my best man when I get married. He was the life of the family, the life of any party,” said Okocha, who is trying to raise $20,000 via a GoFundMe page for funeral costs.
Tominiyi Owoyemi is one of about 10 friends in Kamloops — many being TRU alumni — helping to co-ordinate funeral arrangements on behalf of the three men’s families.
Owoyemi is managing a GoFundMe page for Adebowale, which has a $20,000 goal. There is also a Facebook fundraiser for Adeojo with a $10,000 goal.
Owoyemi, who is also from Nigeria, said he met Adebowale at TRU about two years ago.
“We met and immediately became good friends,” Owoyemi said, describing Adebowale as a jovial person who made friends easily.
Adebowale was a business student and had just graduated from TRU in October.
He would have had a birthday at the end of the month.
Owoyemi said Adeojo was doing a post-baccalaureate at TRU and was to graduate next month.
According to Adeojo’s girlfriend, Alicia Mark — who was in contact with KTW via an email from Owoyemi — the couple planned to move to Calgary after graduation and settle down together.
Mark described Adeojo as a hardworking and generous man.
Owoyemi said the three deceased were members of the Redeemed Christian Church of God Bethel Chapel Kamloops, which will handle the funeral services at a yet to be determined date.
Okocha said he is making travel arrangements to get to Kamloops, but he will be the lone representative of his family to attend his brother’s funeral in Canada.
He said his mother and father won’t be attending as, according to tradition, the parents are not meant to bury a child.
“My mom is in [too] devastated [a] state to even lay eyes on his body,” he said.
Okocha said he learned of his brother’s fate after leaving church on the day of the accident. He said his father called, telling him he heard Daniel had been in a car accident.
David said he’s been coping with his brother’s death by taking solace in the word of God.
“He was a nice person and he didn’t deserve to die this way, and his friends didn’t deserve to die this way,” Okocha said.
Owoyemi said he has been coping with the deaths of his three friends by trying to be around people, noting it is difficult to be alone.
“These guys were great guys, fun to be around,” Owoyemi said.
While the driver of the truck fled from the carnage, the vehicle’s registered owner was arrested and released the following day.
No charges have yet been laid and the investigation is ongoing as police continue to speak with witnesses.
Owoyemi said he has faith in the justice system holding the driver of the vehicle that struck his friends to account.
“That, if anything, would give us a lot of comfort, knowing that the person responsible, who didn’t even stay at the crash scene — because he could have done a lot if he stayed — we really hope the justice system brings him the book,” Owoyemi said.
Meanwhile, any remaining tuition on the deceased students’ files will be returned to their families.
“I can’t speak to the specific situation, but can advise that TRU uses its discretion in matters such as these,” TRU spokeswoman Darshan Lindsay told KTW.
“For humanitarian and compassionate reasons, our practice has been to refund the tuition to families of students who have passed away while here for studies.”
To learn more of the fundraising efforts to help the families with funeral and travel expenses, go online to gofundme.com and search “Feyi Adebowale” and “Daniel Okocha.”