A friend of the cyclist who died after careening off a Gatineau bike path into the Ottawa River this week said he was a smart, young man who did not act recklessly.
Louis Deschenes, 32, died in the Wednesday morning collision near the Université du Québec en Outaouais. The crash happened where the asphalt path bends sharply at the bottom of a slope, immediately next to the river.
A woman saw Deschenes's body lying motionless in the water and called police. Emergency responders tried to resuscitate him at the scene and on the way to the hospital, but were unsuccessful.
"Louis wouldn't do anything stupid," said Norm King, who'd worked with Deschenes for three years at Service Canada.
"I'm sure that Louis was an experienced enough cyclist not to be reckless in trying to navigate that path," he said.
'He was a superstar'
Despite their age difference, King said he and Deschenes formed a close bond and remained good friends even after he retired four years ago.
"He was young enough to be my son," said King.
"He was a superstar in the making in terms of doing great work for the government. No question," he added. "I not only liked him as a colleague — I admired him because he was hardworking, smart and dedicated."
King said the two would get together every few months and had planned to see one another on the morning Deschenes died.
"We were supposed to meet for coffee," said King. "I got there, and I waited 20 minutes. And he obviously never showed up."
Crash was accident, police say
Soon afterwards, King said, he received a text from Deschenes' boss asking if he had heard from him.
"They were concerned because Louis would not have not shown up for work and not called, or [he would have] had someone call with an explanation."
A mutual friend and former colleague eventually called King and told him the terrible news, he said.
"First he went to Louis' house, and then he ended up going to a hospital," King said. "And then [he] called me and told me what happened."
Police said they believe the crash was an accident and are investigating.