Fort McMurray mourns pedestrians killed in collision

Family of Fort McMurray pedestrians killed in collision disappointed after criminal charges stayed

It was a double tragedy for Mirna Chehab.

In one evening, she lost the father of her children and the woman who was her best friend.

Chehab's husband Hadi Eljamal and her best friend Sana Elache were out for an evening walk in Fort McMurray when they were struck by a vehicle at around 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 6th. 

Eljamal, 56, and Elache, 52, both died shortly thereafter.

A 48-year-old man has been charged with two counts of dangerous driving causing death.

A lawyer appeared on his behalf before a Fort McMurray judge Wednesday morning.​ The matter was adjourned until Oct 18th.

"It's awful. I was in shock when this happened," Chehab said.

"I do have days that I crash down. I would be driving and I cry."

Chehab wonders how she will raise their seven-year-old son and two teenage daughters without their father.

Eljamal left his job as a graphic designer and came to Canada in 2005 from Lebanon, working in hotels, catering and as a consultant.

The couple had an interior design business together.

But Chehab said she will remember her husband as a person who always put himself last.

She said Eljamal loved to garden and loved his kids.

"He is a giving person. He wants to care about people. He looks after people before himself. That's who he was," she said.

'Full of joy and excitement'

Elache, a wife and mother, was a volunteer and mentor to many in Fort McMurray. She was president of the Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo.

Coun.Tyran Ault said he would often bump into Elache at events, including the multicultural association's last pancake breakfast.

"As always, she was just smiling from ear to ear, so full of joy and excitement," Ault said. "You can just tell how much she enjoyed getting the community together for events, telling the story of how multicultural and diverse Fort McMurray really is."

Elache was also one of the founders of Leadership Wood Buffalo, a non-profit that trains people to be better leaders in the public, private and non-profit sectors.

Friend Russell Thomas remembers her gift for inspiring new community leaders.

"I saw ripples of the impact that she has had that will continue to positively impact this community for years to come," Thomas said. "That's the kind of legacy she left; that Sana at some level will still be with us through the people she helped influence."

The Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo has organized a memorial for Elache on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 1 p.m.

Follow David Thurton, CBC's Fort McMurray correspondent, on Facebook, Twitter or contact him via email.