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‘Dear friend’ still reeling after Montreal cyclist killed at busy intersection

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There’s been an outpouring of support following the tragic death of Andrea Rovere, who was killed in a hit-and-run collision with a truck early this week while cycling near his Plateau-Mont-Royal home.

The crash happened at the intersection of Parc and Mont-Royal avenues Monday afternoon. Police said both the truck and the cyclist were heading south on Parc when the truck driver made a right-hand turn at the intersection, hitting the cyclist.

Rovere was rushed to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. Brandon Marchand-Bibeau, a 25-year-old truck driver, was arrested in nearby Outremont a short time later.

He appeared in court on Tuesday and was formally charged with failure to stop after an accident resulting in death.

Read more: Cyclist dies in hospital after hit and run, suspect arrested in Outremont

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Giacomo Balistreri, a close friend and colleague of Rovere’s at the Institut nationale de recherche scientifique, says he is still reeling from the news.

“He was a dear friend of mine and knowing that he wasn’t here anymore it was like a huge blow for me,” he said. “Knowing how it happened made it incredibly worse … it made me feel powerless and empty.”

Like Rovere, Balistreri hails from Italy, and says his friend always made sure he felt at home in Quebec.

“When I moved, he was one of the first people that I met and he made sure that I was never alone,” he said. “He made sure that he was always there for me and not only for me, he did it for everybody.”

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Now, six years after Rovere first arrived in Montreal to pursue a Ph.D in physics, his friends in his adoptive country are making sure he isn’t alone and gets back home to his family in Europe.

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On Thursday morning, they launched a GoFundMe campaign hoping to raise $20,000 to help cover expenses linked to repatriating Rovere’s remains to Italy and laying his body to rest.

Bringing back the casket home can be quite an expensive service so we thought it would be nice or a good idea, to help however we could,” Balistreri said.

It only took six hours to reach their initial fundraising goal.

“I was really impressed, I didn’t expect to achieve this goal so quickly,” Balistreri admitted.

By Friday afternoon, they had raised nearly double their targetted amount – $37,900 in donations.

Read more: Montreal ‘ghost bike’ honoring dead cyclist to be displayed in museum

Balistreri said he’ll remember Rovere as a funny, loving and caring person as well as a talented musician.

He hopes that people won’t be dissuaded from riding their bikes or walking around the city after what happened to Rovere but said people need to be careful.

“Always pay attention, whether you’re a pedestrian, you’re a cyclist, or you’re a truck. There should be more awareness, like if you’re driving a truck, you can seriously hurt people,” he said.

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Balistreri also hopes the issue of safety in the area will be addressed.

“Something should be done, because this should not have happened,” Balistreri said.

Read more: Cyclist in hospital after dooring incident in Montreal’s Plateau-Mont-Royal

Following the crash, political leaders campaigning in the upcoming municipal elections promised to make changes to the dangerous intersection.

The truck driver is scheduled to appear in court again on Dec. 7.

Meanwhile, Rovere’s friends, as well as local politicians, are planning to attend a ghost bike ceremony for him on Sunday at 11 a.m. at the corner of Parc and Mont-Royal.

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