The death of Rocanville’s Colby Becker in a spray plane accident on Friday, July 8 has sent shockwaves through the community.
Colby’s aircraft crashed on farmland near Rocanville in the late afternoon on Friday, July 8. The Moosomin RCMP responded to the crash. Colby was pronounced dead at the scene. The crash remains under investigation by Transport Canada.
Mourners filled the Rocanville Arena on Friday, July 15 to remember Colby.
Colby was only 22 and was known for his friendly, outgoing personality and his ability to make friends with people of all ages and walks of life.
“It was such a really big loss because everybody knew him and he knew everybody,” said Brennan Merkosky, Colby’s former high school principal, who was asked to deliver the eulogy at Colby’s funeral.
“He knew how to talk to everybody. And he’d always take the time. He’d take the time to stop and talk to you even if he was running to get this or that for the farm.”
“He would just stop and say hi. He was always respectful. He was never in trouble, he never did anything wrong. He just worked hard and played hard too. He skidooed in the mountains, he quadded, he got his airplane license, and he was only 22.”
Merkosky said Colby’s death was on everyone’s mind last week.
“It doesn’t matter who you talk to in Rocanville, they talk about it. There was not a bad word about him from anyone, that’s for sure. He just had so many positives.”
Merkosky said people were trying to make sense of the tragedy and show as much support as possible to Colby’s family.
“They’re trying to understand but it’s a hard thing to understand,” he said. “I think that farm is full of people from sunup to sundown because so many people want to go out there and express their condolences and love.”
Merkosky said Colby touched many lives and that’s what he wanted to focus on in the eulogy.
“I just want to dwell on how he touched everyone’s life always in a positive way,” he said. “And there wouldn’t be all these people there if they hadn’t been touched by him.
“I just wanted to say what I thought Colby would want me to say.”
Rocanville has been rocked by a number of tragedies—accidents that have claimed the lives of at least 10 young people over the last decade. In 2010 alone, five young men from Rocanville died tragically: Matt Wilkie was killed in a collision driving home from an all-night 30-hour famine event for World Vision, and four young men ranging in age from 18 to 21—Cody Wilson, Chad Taylor, Riley Grainger, and Brody Parker—died in a collision in blinding snow on Highway 8 between Moosomin and Rocanville.
A memorial has been set up in Rocanville School for all the young people lost over the years.
Rocanville mayor Daryl Fingas said Colby’s death was a shock to the community.
“There are a lot of people who have been devastated by it, and especially the young people,” he said. “The whole community, it seems the last few days, that’s all that anyone talks about. You don’t go a day without somebody mentioning Colby.
“Everybody is getting behind the family and helping out with what they can.
“He was a very nice guy. I talked to him when I came across him and he was always a happy guy. He’d talk to anybody.”
Fingas says the community has taken the death especially hard because it has suffered so many losses over the last few years. He says the community is also swift to pull together because of that.
“I think it’s because we’ve had so many deaths in our community of young people,” he said. “We’ve lost so many young people over the years—the last 30 years there have been a lot of young people who have died in accidents. I think that’s why the community really gets behind the family. I think with that big accident a few years ago, with the four young guys, I think that really has a lot to do with it too, because losing four in one place at one time had a big impact on the community, and everyone got behind the families at that time, and now it seems like any time a young person dies everyone shows support.”
Dawn Wilson led the service on Friday.
“This has a little bit more of a closer connection to me. Our kids all went to school together. He was one of the classmates that my kids grew up with,” she said.
“I think this young man, Colby, was uniquely special in being able to befriend every age of person.
“His friends were from far and wide and from every walk of life. I think that he had a unique kind of personality.
“To watch the family go through this will be hard. But God is good, God will get us all through this. It’s definitely what I need to lean on.”