Funeral for 2nd Toronto student killed by suspected impaired driver

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Funeral for 2nd Toronto student killed by suspected impaired driver
Damir Kussein was remembered as a bright and driven person who cared deeply about others. – Jan 4, 2020

The second Centennial College student killed by an alleged impaired driver in Toronto last month has been laid to rest.

On Saturday, friends and family of Damir Kussain, 19, gathered at the Islamic Foundation of Toronto to pay their respects, remembering the young international student as a bright, driven person who cared deeply about others.

Steps outside of her son’s visitation, Gulzhan Bukharova teared up as she watched a music video he made months before his untimely death.

“When I heard about [his death], I couldn’t move,” she said in Russian through a translator.
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Kussain was one of two international Centennial College students killed by a suspected impaired driver on Dec. 22 as they walked near the Progress Campus.

The other victim, Wei Jie Zhu-Li, 19 — whose brother was injured in the incident — was laid to rest last week.

Michael Johnson of Pickering has been charged with impaired and dangerous driving-related offences.

Kussain moved to Canada from his native Kazakhstan five months ago to study robotics, which his family said fulfilled a dream to build a life here.

His uncle, Azamat Bukharova, said he considered him a son.

“I’m really happy with what he achieved,” he said, also aided by a translator. “He achieved more than me.”

The incident has led to calls from the college’s president, Craig Stephenson, to end careless and impaired driving.

“We should know better than getting in the car after having had several drinks and so this was totally and absolutely preventable.”

Matthew Fleming, the director of housing and residence life at Centennial Place Residence, said students continue to grieve. He described Kussain as compassionate, heart-warming and considerate.

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“I recall him consistently telling people in the room that they had a beautiful soul, but the truth is it was [he] who had a beautiful soul,” he said.

The college will award a perpetual $500 scholarship in Kussain’s name to the student with the highest grade studying robotics and automation, Stephenson told Global News.

Kussain’s mother said he would be buried in Canada, the country she said he dreamed of calling home since he was in grade 6.

“He was dreaming about this country,” she said. “He was dreaming to become a citizen of this country.”

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