Aaron Xu feels like he is now responsible for the family after his 52-year-old mother, Huiping Ding, was mowed down by an alleged hit-and-run driver Monday evening while she was walking in Brossard.
"I'm just trying to not be too emotional," Xu said.
Ding was pronounced dead Tuesday, but she wasn't the only victim that night.
A 50-year-old man is still in hospital. Longueuil police said Wednesday that his injuries are life-threatening and his condition remains critical.
Radoslav Guentchev, 30, was accused in a Longueuil courthouse Tuesday of hitting both victims within minutes of each other.
His charges include second-degree murder, aggravated assault, hit-and-run causing death, hit-and-run causing bodily harm, dangerous driving causing bodily harm and dangerous driving causing death.
He is expected back in court on Friday for a bail hearing.
Victims struck minutes apart
Longueuil police say the 50-year-old man was cycling on Niagara Avenue at around 6:15 p.m. when he was struck. A few minutes later, Ding was hit on Pelletier Boulevard.
Longueuil police spokesperson Const. Jean-Pierre Voutsinos said Guentchev was not intoxicated at the time, nor was there any connection between the suspect and the victims.
Police say it appears the victims were targeted at random.
"What we do know is that the suspect seems to be in some state of crisis during the events," said Voutsinos.
"So at this time, obviously, the investigation is still ongoing. So we will learn more as the days go on."
'She loved life,' says son as family mourns
Xu, 26, said his mother recently opened a hair salon in Brossard, having immigrated to Canada in March 2018.
Cutting hair was something Ding had done since she was 18 and she was passionate about the job, he said.
"I think her life was very simple, but she loved what she was doing," Xu said. "She was just doing that her whole life."
Because learning French and English had been challenging at her age, Xu said, it was daunting to come to Quebec and launch a business. But she was not somebody who would just stay home and do nothing, he said.
She quickly succeeded, attracted clients and was able to open an even bigger salon. Meanwhile, Ding was regularly out walking and hitting the gym daily.
"She even did a few marathons in Canada," said Xu.
Ding would walk 10 kilometres in the morning and another 10 in the evening, he said. On Monday, she had left her new salon a bit earlier than usual for her walk when she was struck.
It started to rain that evening and Xu's father tried several times to reach her by phone to offer her a ride. Unable to contact her, Xu used an app to track her phone. That's when he discovered she was in hospital.
"My mind just went blank," said Xu, who grew up an only child. "I didn't know what happened."
A short time later, police called. Xu said his father is heartbroken after such a long, loving marriage.
"She loved life," Xu said. "She enjoyed it and she really loved Canada."