The family of an Edmonton man who was killed during a gas and dash in Thorsby said he died while trying to stop a truck that did not pay a $200 bill.
Ki Yun Jo, 54, died Friday afternoon after he was struck by a white truck in the Thorsby Fas Gas. RCMP said the truck had still not been found as of Sunday afternoon. It is believed to have been stolen from the Spruce Grove area.
Son Sung Hyun Jo, 29, said his father, mother and sister immigrated to Canada 12 years ago. He arrived five years earlier, in 2000, for schooling.
“He was a really, really hardworking guy doing everything and sacrificing for our family just to have a good life,” he said, his voice breaking.
Sung Hyun said his father started the gas station at around the time he immigrated.
“We were looking for a business to start with. We were looking for something small to start with, out of town. To have a business in the city, it’s pretty expensive, we didn’t have a lot of money to start with,” he said.
Sung Hyun said he, his sister and his mother would help his father out at the gas station. His father would sleep in the gas station during the weekdays, coming back to see his family in Edmonton on the weekends.
“He worked alone, like all by himself every day, attached to the store,” he said.
“It was everything [to] him. That’s all he did – work at the store.”
Sung Hyun said he was confused at first about why police were at his house on Friday. When they told him his father had died, Sung Hyun broke down.
Sung Hyun said there have been several gas-and-dash incidents at the gas station in the past, something that frustrated his father.
“He tried [stopping vehicles] many, many times and we know how dangerous that was. The other time, he almost got run over. We told him so many times, ‘Don’t do that. It’s so dangerous. It could take away your life,’” he said.
“This time, it was about $200 that the guy was trying to run away with and he just couldn’t watch that because it’s a lot of money.”
Sung Hyun is pleading for the driver of the truck to turn themselves in.
“Obviously if he has a heart, he better turn himself in. I know he may have been going through a lot of stuff, that he didn’t have money to pay the gas and all that – but still,” he said.
“You killed an innocent guy who was doing everything for our family to survive. We just lost everything so I’m really hoping he turns himself [in] or gets caught.”
Sung Hyun said the family tried to take steps to prevent this type of situation from happening.
“We tried to get a pre-paid system set up in our gas station but to have… all the machines installed, it’s really expensive,” he said.
“I’m really hoping the government gets involved and makes the changes so this does not happen.”
Alberta does not have laws related to pre paying or paying-before-you-pump. B.C. has had pre pay laws since 2008.
The NDP pledged to move forward on legislation in 2015 after a Calgary woman died during a gas and dash. The NDP were also pressured by the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police in 2016 to devise a law requiring drivers to prepay before filling up. To date, no legislation has been introduced.
Labour Minister Christina Gray called the Thorsby gas and dash “a tragic incident.”
When told the family believes some type of law would have changed the outcome, Gray said her heart was broken for them.
“Every worker should be able to come home safely at the end of the day and so, I say to that family and to all Albertans, I will be bringing forward measures to better protect these workers as soon as possible this fall,” she said.
Gray did not have a specific timeline on when this fall the measures would be introduced and did not provide further details on what they would entail. At this point, it is unclear whether it will take the form of legislation or regulatory changes.
When asked what he thought of the minister’s response, Sung Hyun said it is good to know something is being done but he wishes it had been done sooner, before his father was killed.
Sung Hyun said the family plans to continue running the gas station, adding Fas Gas has been in touch to help them with operations. Fas Gas did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.
“It was everything to my dad so [we] don’t want to lose the gas station.”
A funeral for Ki Yun Jo will be held Friday and Saturday and Jo’s family started a GoFundMe page.
A prayer service will be held at the Thorsby Community Centre on Wednesday.
Anyone who may have seen the stolen truck in Spruce Grove around 2 p.m. on Friday or who has information that could identify the suspects or locate the truck is asked to call RCMP or Crime Stoppers.
OHS is investigating Jo’s death.
-with files from the Canadian Press