A 16-year-old Saanich resident who was killed while participating in the Ride to Conquer Cancer is being described as a popular athlete who was engaging and full of faith.
Xavier Pelletier, a Grade 10 Pacific Christian School student, died in Arlington, Wash., on Sunday morning after he pulled into the path of an oncoming vehicle. The driver was travelling under the 55 km/hr speed limit, said Kristen Banfield, Arlington police spokeswoman.
“The driver just couldn’t stop in time. It’s just a horrible accident, our hearts are broken for the family,” Banfield said.
Pelletier was one of 2,600 cyclists riding from Vancouver to Seattle for the cancer fundraising event on the weekend.
The teen was active in volleyball, rugby, sailing and recently competed in a triathlon, said David O’Dell, Pacific Christian principal.
“His presence here at PCS in my mind left a lasting legacy … of generosity and faithfulness, that I think is an inspiration to us all – to serve better wherever we find ourselves, and to love more deeply,” O’Dell said.
Mike Gonzales, part of Team Spaghetti Factory that participated in the ride, said he felt sick to his stomach when he heard about the tragedy.
The Victoria team was 20 to 30 minutes ahead of Pelletier’s group, but Gonzales said he remembers having concerns about the rider safety on Smokey Point Boulevard, where Pelletier was killed.
“I remember turning onto the road and seeing a car blasting past us,” Gonzales said. “I remember thinking, ‘This is dangerous.’ All it would take is for someone to have a slip and something nasty could happen.’ I hate to try and point any sort of finger at anyone. It’s just a sad day and a freak accident.”
Douglas Nelson, president and CEO of the B.C. Cancer Foundation, said members of his organization have been at the family’s side since news of the tragedy broke.
“I have personally spoken with the family and shared my condolences, and they have asked for privacy at this time,” Nelson said.
Pelletier was riding with a pack of cyclists that included his mother and uncle.
Several people on social media expressed their appreciation for having worked with Pelletier at Woodwyn Farms in Saanichton, where he volunteered last summer.
One commenter wrote on Facebook: “He was a great young man. I know his friends at PCS will miss him very much. I am praying for you and your family.”
An Xavier Pelletier Memorial Fund has been set up to help his family cover the costs associated with the accident. Donations can be made at any RBC branch, citing transit #08000; institution #003 and account #1009570.
–with reporting from Kyle Slavin