Car Crash Victim's Family Mourning Loss
Julio Nibigirwe was a fun-loving “typical” teenager with an army of friends and maturity beyond his years.
Friend Celina Perseo let the tears flow as she placed a bunch of roses near the place he died Saturday.
A longtime neighbourhood pal and school mate, she hadn’t seen him all summer and isn’t sure how she’ll be able to come to grips with the fact that she’ll never see him again.
Nibigirwe, 16, was killed after the mini-van he was riding in crashed early Saturday in Riverside South.
He was thrown from the moving vehicle on a curved part of River Rd. near Lowen Dr. around 2:10 a.m.
He suffered multi-system trauma and was pronounced dead on the scene by paramedics.
Perseo knelt in that same wet, long grass hours later — the first to lay something at what is likely to become a growing memorial.
“We’ve been friends for 13 years,” said Perseo, 18. “I’ve seen him grow up into a man who cherished life and was always there for everyone.”
Nibigirwe, who had a longtime girlfriend, had just returned from a summer trip to Africa.
Perseo said he lived at home and stayed out of trouble.
Four other young men were in the van with him.
Cliff Chan, who lives nearby, heard the screeching tires, followed by a thud that shook his home.
He was among the first two people on-scene and called 911 as he ran to the crash site, where the van, which had rolled, lay upright in the left shoulder ditch facing the road.
“I thought my house had been hit,” he said.
The 17 year-old driver only had minor injuries, as did a 19 year-old rear seat passenger.
A fourth young man, 21, is in “pretty bad” shape at Civic hospital, according to paramedics. Police say his injuries are life-threatening.
Paramedic John Keylar said the man was thrown 50 feet from the vehicle and has multi-system trauma.
Chan said he could have easily tripped on the deceased teen lying on the ground in the darkness.
The area is lit by a single streetlight.
It was chaos. On his way over, Chan heard two of the young men arguing about something. Because of this, he initially suspected it might have been a two-vehicle crash.
By the time he got there, one of them identified himself as the driver right away and asked for help.
“He said my friend is dead, my friend is dead,” said Chan. “Help me find my friend.”
Chan ran back and got a flashlight and found the 21 year-old face-down, groaning.
The deceased teen’s face was bloodied. The windshield of the van was severely cracked on the passenger side and both airbags had gone off.
A fifth passenger, a 19 year-old, fled the scene on foot but was found later by cops.
He’s been treated for cuts.
Several hours later, a witness spotted a paring knife on the shoulder of the road where the van came to a rest. A police officer came and picked up the knife in a clear plastic evidence bag.
The section of River Rd. where the crash happened was closed for about six hours.
Witnesses say it wasn’t raining at the time of the crash.
Perseo took advantage of a stop to the furious rain Saturday afternoon, to come and pay her respects.
“I’m really going to miss him,” she said. “He’s going to be missed by a lot of people.”
Police aren’t releasing names and said their collision experts are continuing to investigate.
There’s no word on if alcohol or speed were contributing factors to the crash, or how many of the men were wearing seatbelts.
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