It was a routine trip for parents to make: picking up a son from basketball practice. But on Wednesday, the routine was changed for Jeannine Mujani Tshibuabua.
“I always go to pick him up, but that day I asked his father to pick him up,” she said.
“He asked (our daughter) Aleysha, ‘Do you want to come with me?’ and (our other daughter) Ninelle came running (saying), ‘Daddy, I want to come with you too.’
“Those were the last words I heard from them.”
Ninelle Tshimuana Kabasele and Aleysha Kalimat Mulumba joined their father Pierre Kabasele Mulumba in the family car to go pick up their brother.
About 20 minutes later, they were rear-ended by a pickup truck, sending their vehicle into oncoming traffic on Macleod Trail.
Jeannine got a call from a police officer shortly after.
“She didn’t tell me about my husband. She just said they were an accident and my two daughters, they are in the children’s hospital.”
Eleven-year-old Aleysha was sitting in the front passenger seat.
“I was just on my phone. Then the car — I just saw the airbags come out and stuff like that when the car crashed. It was really loud.
“And then I dropped my phone and then I just saw my dad with blood and stuff on his head.
“And then I couldn’t see my sister because the back was turned around and I just couldn’t see her.”
Witnesses to the accident helped Aleysha out of the car, wrapping her in blankets, while emergency responders arrived.
The Calgary Fire Department extracted the other two family members.
Pierre, 37, and Ninelle, seven, were declared dead on the scene by emergency responders.
Basketball practice for 13-year-old son Didistone Mulumba-Kamal was over and he was wondering where his ride home was.
At about 5:30 p.m. he borrowed a friend’s phone to call his mother, who broke the news to him, advising calmness.
“At first, I was confused and a little bit sad. My friends were comforting me.
“Then around an hour later, my auntie comes to pick me up. She drives me to get some food and then we went to the children’s hospital.”
The driver that struck their car, 51-year-old Yannick Joseph Bouchard, was arrested and faces multiple charges including dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death and hit and run causing death.
Jeannine is left with simple questions.
“How? Why? What? I have no words.”
Andy Mutombo, Pierre’s brother-in-law living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said the news shocked him as well.
“I was very shocked when I heard the news, and again shocked when I saw the video. I asked, ‘What happened? I thought Calgary has good roads, to be going those speeds and crash, what happened?’” Mutombo told Global News.
Mutombo said Pierre was a very kind man and “Ninelle was Pierre’s world.”
Aleysha remembers Ninelle as helpful and honest.
“She’s a very social girl,” her mother said.
Calgarians are rallying around the remaining members of the family that was torn apart following the Wednesday afternoon collision on Macleod Trail at Lake Fraser Gate S.E.
That stretch of Macleod Trail is known to residents of southern Calgary to be problematic.
“I myself have also been in an accident in the exact same spot,” Nicky Taylor, a resident of Legacy, told Global News.
News of the fatal accident led Taylor and others in her community group to start a fundraising page for the family.
“As a mother, I can’t imagine getting that call: your youngest and your husband are gone. But the other one was OK, thank goodness,” Taylor said.
Taylor hoped any funds they raise can be just some of the support the community is offering to the mourning mother.
“I just want her to know that we’re all here for her and we stand behind her and anything she needs.”
Conseil scolaire FrancoSud also set up a fundraiser for the family on Friday, with disbursement to happen on Dec. 3.
The francophone school board also said CPS therapeutic dogs will be at Ecole de la Source on Monday, along with a memorial to the victims at the school’s entrance.
“Conseil scolaire FrancoSud and the community of École de la Source offer their sincere condolences to the family,” a statement from FrancoSud said. “For the time being, we ask that you respect the bereavement of the family.”
Calgary police echoed the sentiments on Thursday.
“To the family and friends of the victims, our thoughts are with you during this difficult time. This is a season in which we should be celebrating with our loved ones, not mourning their loss,” CPS traffic section Sgt. Colin Foster said in a statement.
“Help is available to anyone who may have witnessed or who was affected by this horrific and tragic incident by either contacting 211, or the Calgary Police Service Victims Assistance Support Team at 403-428-8398.”
–with files from Tracy Nagai and Michael King, Global News