It’s been almost one year to the day that Jose Perez was killed when he was struck by an impaired driver while riding his bicycle near McKenzie Meadows Golf Club in southeast Calgary.
On Saturday, Perez’s family members were joined by close friends and representatives from MADD Calgary to remember the father and husband who was taken away from them and to process the unimaginable loss.
“It’s been the hardest year of our lives,” says Perez’s wife, Xochitl Alvarez.
It was around 8:00 p.m. on August 8, 2020, that Perez was hit by a pickup truck that had just exited the parking lot of the golf club and began heading east on McKenzie Meadows Drive.
The driver – 26-year-old Joseph Johnson – is alleged to have crossed the solid yellow line into westbound lanes, where he hit Perez.
In November, Johnson was charged with impaired driving.
Three weeks earlier, Perez’s daughter, Celic, had what she calls the “happiest day of her life” when she got married. She was in the midst of celebrating her honeymoon when she received the news about her father’s passing.
“It was supposed to be a fresh start,” she says. “This event added to the stress of adjusting to married life – it was a very difficult year.”
Saturday’s gathering was also a way for the family to show the dangerous consequences that drunk driving can have.
“We don’t want to be here,” says Uriel Perez, Jose’s son. “We’re here because you can see all these cars passing by, any one of them could have been out for a drink and drove, and the same thing could have happened,” he says.
Denise Dubyk of MADD Calgary says gatherings like Saturday’s evoke not only heartache for the families impacted, but also anger that someone chose to get behind the wheel while intoxicated, despite the many alternatives to doing so.
“Call a cab, take a bus or have a designated driver,” says Dubyk. “Designated drivers are heroes because they get people home safely and they protect others on the road.”
The road outside the golf club is heavily trafficked by cyclists, and the family is hopeful that bike lanes will be installed to prevent more tragedies like theirs from happening in the future.
“He will live in our hearts forever,” says Alvarez.