Edmonton man killed in Fort Road crash remembered as 'gentle giant'

Rodney Farquharson, the man killed in a north Edmonton crash Sunday morning, is being remembered as a "gentle giant" who loved his family and friends.

"He had a good heart. It wasn't fair that they took somebody who was such a good person away," his roommate and friend Dawn Anderson said Tuesday

"It's not his time. It can't be. He was only 58. I'm not ready for him to leave. I need him here with me still."

In a crash that police have described as "completely avoidable," three vehicles collided near 66th Street and Fort Road just after 9 a.m. Sunday.

Farquharson was killed instantly. He was a few blocks from his home.

'He was such a good man'

"I collapsed on the bedroom floor and I was sitting beside the bed, crying, sobbing uncontrollably," Anderson said.

"I was rocking back and forth and asking, 'Why, why? Why him? He was such a good man.'

"The tears just kept coming. It was like a faucet."

Anderson describes Farquharson as her best friend. They lived together for more than 15 years after meeting over a friendly game of poker with mutual friends.

When they met, Farquharson was struggling with the death of his young daughter from leukemia. He seemed to take comfort in Anderson's large extended family. 

"We just kind of hit it off and our friendship just grew from there. We became closer over the years and to me, he's like a soulmate," Anderson said. "The kids would call him the gentle giant because he was always there for everybody."

'The house feels empty'

Farquharson had just dropped Anderson off at work at Northlands Coliseum when his Chevrolet Impala was rear-ended and forced off the road.

Anderson only wishes he had returned home that day to eat the pancakes, bacon and scrambled eggs she had prepared for breakfast — a meal she found still sitting cold in the microwave hours later.

His death feels surreal to her, she said.

"I'm not done and he's gone. It just feels empty. The house feels empty. It's just a void now."

"Last night around 6 o'clock I was waiting for him to come through the back door and come home from work."

A crane operator with Maple Leaf Metals for nearly 30 years, Farquharson was no stranger to hard work but relished his days off, said Anderson.

He loved Friday night bingo, late night card games, scratch tickets, and lazy Sunday afternoons in his favourite recliner, watching football.

'He was the guy to rely on'

Initially their relationship was romantic, but even after some "rocky times" when the spark fizzled, the pair remained roommates and inseparable companions.

They settled into a weekly ritual of family card games, Friday night dinners and Sunday breakfasts at Smitty's. They vacationed in places like Jamaica and Las Vegas.

Anderson's children took to calling him Uncle Bingo or Grandpa Rod.

"They called themselves companions," said Farquarson's niece, Chasity Okimow. "They lived together, they travelled together, they ate their breakfasts togethers. They were happy."

When she learned of the crash, Okimow rushed to the scene. As soon as she saw the wreckage, she knew in her heart that her uncle was gone.

She remembers her Uncle Bingo as an affable man who taught her to drive, and how to play a mean game of Kings to Aces.

"I called him my special uncle. He made sure we all felt like we were his favourites," she said. "He'd give you the shirt off his own back. He was always a generous fellow like that. And he was never too busy; he was already to help. He was the guy to rely on."

'The wrong place at the wrong time'

Police believe speed was a factor in the crash.

It happened when a 39-year-old man driving a Honda Accord southbound on 66th Street rear-ended Farquharson's Impala, forcing it to veer off the road.

The Accord then swerved into the northbound curb lane, striking a white Hyundai SUV head-on. A 55-year-old woman and an eight-year-old girl in the Hyundai were taken to hospital with injuries that are not life-threatening.

Okimow said the father of the injured girl reached out to her, offering his condolences and saying it could have been much worse for his family had Farquharson not taken the brunt of the impact.

"Police told us he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I know my uncle and he would have placed himself there if he knew it meant saving the life of a child," said Okimow. "He lost his own child to cancer when she was eight and he adored children.

"If he was given a choice, I know he would have been there to make sure that little girl got out OK. To me, that gives me comfort."