The family of Leonard Dyck is choosing to remember him by the quality of his life and by how much he loved his family and friends.
Dyck is one of three people believed to have been killed by Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod last month in northern B.C.
Eric Friesen, Dyck’s cousin, spoke to Global News in an exclusive interview — the first time the family has spoken publicly since their loved one was found dead on a northern B.C. highway.
Friesen, who lives in Calgary with his wife, remembers Dyck as a kind and gentle soul who was intelligent yet humble.
“Leonard was a special individual, yet the kind of guy who didn’t really need to stand out.
“He was a humble individual as well and it’s a tragic loss.”
The 64-year-old Vancouver scholar carried a PhD in botany and was particularly curious about seaweed and algae. His cousin described him as having a very inquisitive personality and said he loved the outdoors.
“He was interested in all types of things. Leonard was an extremely bright individual… it may have taken a bit of time to sit down with him, but once you got to get to know him, you could really connect,” he said.
Friesen said it has been an incredibly difficult few weeks for the family, especially over the past 24 hours when RCMP officials discovered the bodies of the two young men wanted in connection to Dyck’s death, as well as the deaths of Australian Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese of North Carolina.
He said there is some relief but there are still many unanswered questions. As for a motive, police have not shared any details with the family about why Dyck was killed.
“We haven’t heard anything from the police… The way that he died — violently and murdered in cold blood — makes it very difficult to process any thoughts at this moment,” Friesen said.
“There’s nothing we can do to bring Leonard back and restore our lives to before we found out about the deaths,” he said.
Dyck was no stranger to the outdoors and would often travel to remote areas, both on his own and with his family, Friesen said.
The trip to the Dease Lake area wasn’t part of original Dyck’s plans, Friesen said, adding he was only supposed to travel between Terrace and Stewart.
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Dyck’s body would later be discovered on July 19, about two kilometres away from a burning red truck south on Highway 37 south of Dease Lake.
As for closure, Friesen said there is some but it’s minimal.
“The two individuals aren’t out there creating a potential problem in society in the future. There is closure in that standpoint,” he said.
“It’s been three weeks and it’s still very difficult for me to comprehend what’s happening and comprehend a future for Leonard’s family and how we all go forward.
“We want the world to know that Leonard was dedicated to his family.”
“I have no words. Our hearts goes out to the Deese family and the Fowler family.”
Friesen and his wife have launched a crowdfunding page to help support Dyck’s wife and two sons during the difficult tragedy. The family is also hoping the page becomes a hub to share photos and memories of Dyck.