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New West hockey community rallies around family hit by tragedy

GoFundMe campaign launched for family after hockey dad killed in crash on Coquihalla on Monday
The New Westminster Minor Hockey Association is rallying behind a hockey family.

The New Westminster Minor Hockey Association is rallying around one of its families that’s suffered a devastating loss.

In a Jan. 9 posting on Facebook, the association invited community members to join its hockey family in a display of strength and unity as it rallies around its U15A1 team.

“This past weekend, they shone brilliantly in a hockey tournament in Kelowna, winning a gold medal. However, tragedy struck as Timur Gabbassov (player) and his father Ravil faced a car crash on the Coquihalla Highway. Miraculously, Timur emerged with minor injuries, but Ravil tragically lost his life,” said the posting. “We extend our deepest condolences to the Gabbassov family.”

According to the association, counselling services are being made available for those affected through NWMHA, BC Hockey and Hockey Canada.

“In solidarity, the U15A1 team voted to play as ‘Ravil wouldn't have missed a game’ and calls upon the New Westminster Royals family to support the Gabbassovs,” said the posting. “Attend their game tonight (Jan. 9) against Semiahmoo at South Surrey Arena, starting at 6:45 p.m. Please wear your New Westminster jerseys to show love, strength, and unity.”

A GoFundMe fundraiser has been organized for the Gabbassov family.

“We don’t know what the future holds and would like to offer financial support as the family navigates the coming months,” said the online fundraiser.

The campaign’s goal is to raise $15,000 for the family.

“This past weekend Timur and his dad Ravil travelled from New Westminster to Kelowna for a hockey tournament. Timur scored the goal that tied up the game, and New Westminster ended up winning gold at the tournament,” said the GoFundMe fundraising page. “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.”

El Santo restaurant at 680 Columbia St. in New Westminster will be donating 10 per cent of its sales on Wednesday, Jan. 10 to the fundraising campaign.

A news release from the Merritt RCMP said police were alerted to a collision on the Coquihalla Highway, approximately 45 kilometres south of Merritt, on the morning of Monday, Jan. 8. Police say a Ford F150 travelling southbound had crossed the centre median ditch and went into oncoming traffic, striking a semi-truck and trailer that was heading northbound in the slow lane. 

"We are still investigating the exact cause of the collision,” said Merritt RCMP Staff Sgt. Josh Roda in the news release. “Our hearts go out to the family of the deceased.”

Anyone who witnessed the collision or has dash camera footage and has not yet spoken to police is asked to call the Merritt RCMP at 250-378-4262.