New West minor hockey rallies around player after Coquihalla crash claims dad’s life

The man killed in a crash on the Coquihalla Monday has been identified as the father of a Lower Mainland minor hockey player, whose son survived the fatal collision.

The New Westminster Minor Hockey Association (NWMHA) says Timur Gabbassov and his dad, Ravil, were involved in the crash about 41 kilometres south of Merritt.

“Miraculously, Timur emerged with minor injuries, but Ravil tragically lost his life. We extend our deepest condolences to the Gabbassov family,” the association said in a social media post Tuesday.

BC Emergency Health Services told CityNews it had received reports of a collision on the Coquihalla around 11:30 a.m. Monday. According to police, a Ford F150 was heading south when it crossed the centre median and began driving into oncoming traffic, eventually hitting a semi-truck in the slow lane.

Mounties said the driver of the F150 died at the scene, adding a passenger was airlifted to hospital. The driver of the semi sustained minor injuries.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation but it came at a time when the region was being hit by heavy snowfall.

Hockey community ‘pulling together’: NWMHA

“It’s obviously devastating. There’s a lot of people whose lives have been touched by this incident,” New Westminster Minor Hockey Association President Justin Bourne told CityNews Tuesday.

“The encouraging part for me is that our association and community as a whole are really pulling together to do everything we can to support the team and Timur and his family.”

A GoFundMe set up to support the Gabbassov family says Timur and his father were in Kelowna for a hockey tournament over the weekend.

“Timur scored the goal that tied up the game and New Westminster ended up winning gold at the tournament,” the fundraiser explains.

“The game ended late and Ravil decided to get a hotel for the night and drive during daylight hours on Monday. Tragedy struck as Timur and Ravil faced a car crash on the Coquihalla Highway.”

Organizers of the GoFundMe say Ravil leaves behind a wife, daughter, and son, adding the fundraiser is meant to support his loved ones “as the family navigates the coming months.”

‘It really hit close to home’

“I was shocked,” Bourne recalled of the moments he learned of the crash.

“We’d been following that tournament. I didn’t know Timur or his father all that well but, as president, I’ve had passing interactions with them. It really hit close to home. This could happen to any of us. They were driving an F150 — I also drive an F150. You realize that these things can happen to anyone at anytime, and it’s really, kind of, disturbing.”

Despite the tragedy, Bourne tells CityNews Timur’s team voted on Monday night to play their next game, scheduled for Tuesday.

“When we reached out to the league about the incident initially, they offered to postpone the game if the team wanted to. But, last night, the team voted unanimously that they wanted to play the game,” Bourne explained.

“Timur has been injured for much of the season but he and his father, Ravil, were at almost every game, or possibly every single game, showing their support, even though he wasn’t able to play. The team, as I understand, said, ‘Ravil wouldn’t miss a game, so why should we?'”

In solidarity with Timur and his loved ones, the association is “[calling] upon the New Westminster Royals family to support the Gabbassovs” by attending Tuesday’s game against Semiahmoo at the South Surrey Arena.

“Please wear your New Westminster jerseys to show love, strength, and unity.”

The NWMHA, BC Hockey, and Hockey Canada are offering anyone in need of support counselling services during this difficult time.

-With files from Michael Williams

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