Five days after the owner of a gas station in Thorsby, Alta. was killed in a hit-and-run resulting from a gas-and-dash, the community gathered at a vigil to pay tribute to Ki Yun Jo.
“It is so unfair that a tragedy would happen to such a good man,” Jo’s son, Sung Hyun Jo, told about 200 people who gathered at the Thorsby Community Hall on Wednesday night. “I’m willing to do or pay anything to get him back, but sadly there is no way.”
Fifty-four-year-old Ki Yun Jo died Friday afternoon after he was struck by a white truck about a block away from the Thorsby Fas Gas. Jo’s family said the truck tried to drive off after failing to pay a nearly $200 bill.
Watch below: Some videos from Global News’ ongoing coverage of a fatal gas-and-dash in Thorsby, Alta.
At Wednesday’s vigil, Jo’s widow broke down in tears after receiving donations from the community of Thorsby to convert the gas pumps at the Fas Gas to pre-pay.
Unlike in neighbouring B.C., Alberta does not have laws related to prepaying for gas. In 2015, the Alberta government indicated it would move forward on such legislation after a fatal gas-and-dash in Calgary and on Tuesday, Alberta’s labour minister said she will bring forward measures “to better protect these workers as soon as possible this fall.”
Global News asked The Parkland Fuel Corporation, which operates the Fas Gas, if it would help the family convert the station to a prepaid system, but the company did not respond.
Some firefighters and local RCMP officers were in attendance at the vigil. On Wednesday, the RCMP also held a victims services support session for Thorsby residents still trying to come to terms with what happened.
Police are still looking for the suspect(s) and vehicle involved in the incident. The vehicle, a 2006 Ford cube van, was stolen earlier on Friday from Middleton Flooring in Spruce Grove.
On Wednesday, Thorsby’s mayor, Barry Rasch, said it’s hard for the community to find closure when the culprit is still on the loose.
“There’s frustration because he remains at large. He obviously has eluded RCMP. We don’t even seem to know where the vehicle is.”
Pastors who were present at Wednesday’s vigil told the crowd that while they understood how difficult it was, people should try to forgive whomever was behind the deadly hit-and-run.
Pastor Glenn McBride with the New Life Christian Fellowship said he’s been having to counsel children who witnessed the incident on their way home from school.
“It’s one of those things that you hope never happens, but when it does, it’s simple as can be. It’s tragic. It’s caused a lot of fear. Nightmares for some of the kids.”
McBride said the vigil was designed to let people know they’re not alone in their grief.
“Everyone is feeling this,” he explained. “Those who knew him well, as well as those who only saw him every three or four months.”
McBride said the community’s religious leaders are available for ongoing support.
“If you need to talk, we’re here for you. We’ll be here to just listen, give as much advice as we can possibly do, or just cry together and spend that time.”
Rasch said it’s important Jo’s widow and children know the community is behind them.
“We want the family to know that we feel their grief, we feel their pain and we’re here to help them. We want to help them go forward and obviously heal and that’s going to take some time.”
Pastor Scott Brown with Thorsby’s St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, said he’d met Jo a few times over the years.
“I knew him as a caring man,” he said. “He always wanted to know a little bit about you.”
According to Sung Hyun Jo, his father, mother and sister came to Canada 12 years ago. Sung Hyun arrived five years earlier, in 2000, for school.
“I love you Dad. Don’t worry about family, find your peace,” Sung Hyun Jo said out loud to his late father on Wednesday night.
View a photo gallery from Wednesday night’s vigil below:
A funeral for Ki Yun Jo will be held on Friday and Saturday; Jo’s family started a GoFundMe page.
Thorsby is located about 75 kilometres southwest of Edmonton.
-With files from Sarah Kraus, Caley Ramsay and Julia Wong.