Family remembers Lethbridge man killed in Whoop Up collision

LETHBRIDGE – Friends and family gathered over the weekend to pay their respects to Alan Johnston. The 72-year-old died following a collision on Whoop Up Drive.

On November 13, Johnston’s van collided with a city-operated front-end loader that was clearing snow. There were a number of reports that the sun was shining in the faces of drivers heading west on the busy road.

READ MORE: Lethbridge man dies after collision with front-end loader

Family members say Johnston had been recovering after medical complications with his lungs and making plans for future travels and experiences.

At the weekend service that was attended by hundreds, he was remembered for his contributions to the city.

“I’d say he was one of the pillars of the community,” said his eldest child and only son, Sam Johnston.

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Born in England and raised there during WWII, Johnston went on to university, excelling in science and math. He immigrated to Canada, growing his family in Lethbridge with his wife, Katie. In the 90’s, Johnston was approached by the Alberta government to start a community health service agency. Johnston and his wife founded Edenbridge family services.

“They grew [Edenbridge] into something that takes care of… thousands of people with disabilities and employs hundreds of people,” said Sam Johnston.

Described as a humble and quiet philanthropist, Johnston continued to work as president and CEO of Edenbridge until his death.

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READ MORE: Fatal Whoop Up collision raising questions about safety procedures

Following the collision, others who passed the front-end loader shared their accounts of the conditions at the time on social media.

“I came up whoop up at about the same time! And I thought that loader was going to cause an accident because of the blinding sun!! Couldn’t even see it!! You would think that the city would have considered the time of day!! How sad!!!! )-:” commented Karen Scarfe on a Facebook post.

“My husband and I were driving in the same lane minutes before the accident, the sun was so bright you couldn’t see a thing. There were no pylons or warnings or lights on or around the loader- you literally could not see a thing. My husband, who is a very competant (sic) driver, was driving and he didn’t see anything, from the passenger side I saw a glimpse of a shadow…I quickly said ,”Watch out!!” And he swerved, and we barely missed it… the people behind us just about rear-ended it too. My husband said that someone was going to get hurt, because you literally couldn’t see it at all. I wish there was some warning that the loader was there, it was barely even moving…” wrote Samara Dewey.

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“What I’ve heard is that other people had to do, like, the sudden brake and swerve and dodge to avoid the same fate,” said Johnston.

“It was my father who was killed but it could have anybody on that road that afternoon.”

Lethbridge Police are continuing to investigate the collision. The City of Lethbridge released a statement shortly after the collision saying in part: “Until the police investigation has been completed, it would be inappropriate for us to say anything further.”

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