Fatal highway collision claims second victim

The highway crash that killed one Red Deer youth early in the morning of March 31 has now claimed a second life.

Red Deer teenager Tyson Vanderzwaag

The highway crash that killed one Red Deer youth early in the morning of March 31 has now claimed a second life.

Red Deer teenager Tyson Vanderzwaag, crushed while he and some friends were pushing a broken-down car off the road, died on Friday morning in the intensive care unit at Foothills Hospital in Calgary, three days after his 18th birthday.

Vanderzwaag and the friends he had been travelling with had done everything right that night, his mother, Wendy said on Sunday.

They had laid plans to attend a party in Sylvan Lake and had arranged designated drivers to get them home afterward.

Tyson’s group of five was heading east on Hwy 11A at about 3:30 when their car broke down near Range Road 281, about three kilometres west of Red Deer city limits.

They were trying to push the car off the road when it was struck from behind.

Colton Keeler, 19, was killed at the scene.

Tyson was airlifted to Calgary suffering from multiple injuries, including a severed leg.

His death on Friday laid an additional cloud of grief over those who had gathered the next morning to bid Keeler a final farewell, said Wendy.

She described her son as “typical 17-year-old,” always on the move with his friends and just beginning to weigh his career options.

A Grade 11 student at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School, Tyson had just purchased a music mixing table and was also taking an interest in drafting, with notions of becoming an architect, said Wendy.

The mixing table had been a long-time dream of Tyson’s, who had been learning the deejay’s art from his best friend and mentor, Brodie Peterson.

On the phone from his new home in Victoria, where he has been working for the past month, Peterson, 19, said he helped Tyson get a job with him at the Canadian Tire store in North Red Deer so he could save up the $2,700 it would cost to buy his own mixing table and accessories.

Peterson vividly recalls Tyson’s high spirits on the day he was finally able to complete the purchase.

The two friends spent the next three days together, playing with the machine.

Struggling with his grief, Peterson said Tyson had been like a brother to him, welcomed by his grandparents in their Red Deer home and instantly bonding with his father, who lives in Calgary.

The strength of family and friends has helped everyone cope with losing Tyson, said Wendy, a single mother whose parents helped her raise her only child.

Funeral arrangements are tentatively set for Wednesday afternoon to give her time to pick Peterson up at the airport in Edmonton.

Friends of both the Keeler and Vanderzwaag families have arranged a fundraiser at the Cosmos Bottle Depot, to take place during business hours on Saturday. Money from bottles brought in that day will go into a fund to help the families with funeral costs.

A 29-year-old woman from Blackfalds faces numerous alcohol-related charges, including impaired driving causing death, as a result of the collision.

April Gail Beauclair is to enter her pleas in Red Deer provincial court on Wednesday.


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