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Aylmer driver killed in Colonel Talbot Rd. crash remembered as hard-working family man

Jake and Mary Epp as seen in this photo from a GoFundMe launched July 15, 2021. via GoFundMe

Police in London, Ont., say a driver taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries after a crash on Colonel Talbot Road near Highway 401 on Thursday has since died.

He’s been identified as Jake Epp, 26, of Aylmer, Ont.

“Everyone is still in shock. We just can’t believe he’s actually gone. He was just here, full of life, and then in the blink of an eye, he’s gone,” says Epp’s relative who asked not to be named.

Read more: Serious crash on Colonel Talbot Road near Highway 401 sends 2 to hospital: London police

Jake and his wife Mary Epp have four daughters between the ages of one and six, she says.

“Jake loved Mary and the girls more than anything. He worked hard to provide for them,” she told Global News.

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“He had his struggles like we all do but the last couple of months he was so happy and just loved life. He was loved by many and will be so, so missed.”

She says her last memory of Epp was of him “sitting around the fire, laughing and making jokes with everyone.”

Read more: Driver dead after Hwy 3 crash west of Aylmer: Elgin County OPP

Epp’s employer also spoke of his love for family and his sense of humour.

“He was a loving family man that came to do an honest day’s work and all he would do is talk about positive things, his daughters, his wife,” says Josh Fleming, owner of Concretus Specialties Ltd. where Epp was employed.

“We’re all really going to miss him.”

Fleming says Epp began working at Concretus, which employs just over 40 people, more than a year ago and described him as his “number one role model employee” who was humble, happy, friendly and funny.

He said Epp was also a hard worker, quickly moving up from finisher to senior finisher.

“He learned within one year what most would learn within five to six years,” Fleming told Global News.

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“There’s not one of our employees that wouldn’t want to be working with Jake. In fact, guys would be pulling to have Jake on their side.”

Read more: South end crash kills 29-year-old London, Ont. man

Fleming says he was devastated to learn of Epp’s death and instantly thought of the family.

A GoFundMe set up to support Epp’s wife and four daughters had raised more than $70,000 as of Friday afternoon, $40,000 of which came from Concretus.

The company is also putting stickers on all of its vehicles and looking at other ways to commemorate Epp and help his family.

“Everything’s very new and sudden but (the team is) already putting together fundraisers for T-shirts to support the family,” Fleming adds.

Read more: Barrie man dies after pickup truck crashes near Sudbury

Police said Thursday that emergency crews were called to respond to a crash involving two vehicles at Colonel Talbot Road just south of Highway 401 at roughly 7 a.m. that day and the drivers of both vehicles were taken to hospital.

One driver — Epp — sustained life-threatening injuries and died in hospital, while the other driver, also an adult man, had minor injuries. Police did not have an update on his condition as of Friday afternoon.

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Colonel Talbot was closed between Orr Drive and the 401 for roughly six hours on Thursday. The investigation is ongoing.

–With files from Global News’ Kelly Wang

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