John Dolliver and his Dodge truck that was restored by family and friends after he died in a Canada Day collision near Red Deer.

Restoring son’s truck healing journey for Penhold family

Eighteen-year-old John Dolliver had a dream to restore his 1993 three-quarter-ton Dodge truck — but he did not live long enough to make it happen.

Dolliver, of Penhold, and Ashleigh Smith, 16, of Springbrook, were killed last summer on Canada Day in a fatal single-vehicle crash east of Red Deer.

There were three other people in the car. Two were teen girls — one who suffered serious facial injuries and the other was not seriously injured. The driver, Dylan Beauclair, 18, of Red Deer now faces serious charges.

Soon after the tragedy, Tammy and Scott Dolliver and their daughter Brianna decided to honour John’s memory and restore the truck that he so loved. Along with John’s friends, and others who stepped in to help, it took them on a healing journey, Tammy said Tuesday.

John loved mechanics and his old truck, and was going to restore the truck with his dad over a couple of years. On July 29 family and friends began to work on the truck. They tore it apart with just the cab and engine left on the frame. Working evenings and weekends, they completed the job four months later, on Nov. 25, Tammy said.

John’s parents had helped him buy a sturdy truck soon after he got his driver’s licence earlier this year. To their surprise he soon traded it and bought himself an old 1992 “first gen” (first generation) diesel Dodge.

But he was devastated when another driver struck the side of it and totalled it in a collision, Tammy said. In the end he bought the Dodge that’s now been restored. “He spent hours just detailing the inside of that old truck,” his mother said.

A lot of businesses contributed items at cost, and other donations helped with the restoration. The tailgate art was donated by one of John’s friends and his father. The panel shows two photos of John hunting and reads “In Memory of John Dolliver 1997-2016”.

“We’ve met so many people through the restoration of the truck. We’ve made a lot of friends,” said Tammy. They’ve joined a local diesel truck enthusiast group that meets and socializes.

Recently they took the to John’s school — Lindsey Thurber Comprehensive High School — to show it to his mechanics teacher, Alan Wade, who was a mentor to John.

At first Tammy thought the restoration would be very hard to do emotionally. “But his friends continued to come. We shared tears. We shared laughs. We shared lots of stories. … There was a lot of healing … I’m glad we did it.”

“This is what John wanted and we did it.”

John’s birthday was Dec. 9. The family celebrated it with his friends who each received a photo album of the restoration process.

barr@bprda.wpengine.com

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