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Vancouver Island community rocked by cyclist’s death, after police charge resident with 1st-degree murder

The sons of Rod Kelly, a longtime resident of Cumberland, B.C., describe him as a dedicated father who liked to tell dirty jokes and play air guitar. Another man in the same community has been charged with first-degree murder in relation to Kelly's death.

Police charged 45-year-old Cumberland resident with first-degree murder, failing to stop at accident scene

Two young men each hold up a photo while sitting on a couch.

Douglas Kelly-Waterfield, 28, sits next to his little brother Skyler Kelly on a worn-out sofa, thumbing through photos of their father, Rod Kelly.

"Fifty-four years old and he's already gone," Kelly-Waterfield says. "We can't call our dad anymore and see him. And we've got to live with that for the rest of our lives."

Kelly-Waterfield's dad, Rod Kelly, was a long-time resident of Cumberland, a small village nestled at the bottom of the mountains in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island.

His kids say he was a logger, a mountain biker, and a dedicated father who liked to tell dirty jokes and play air guitar.

"He loved his community, he loved his forest, he loved logging," Kelly-Waterfield said. "But he loved his kids, me and my little brother, the most. You know, he would do anything for us."

Last week Rod Kelly's body was found next to his bicycle on the side of the road leading to nearby Courtenay.

At first RCMP publicly searched for clues in what they called a hit-and-run death, and many residents of the popular mountain-biking destination cried out for better cycling infrastructure in the area.

But a few days later, police announced they found a suspect — 45-year-old Cumberland resident Steven Squires — and had charged him with first-degree murder as well as failing to stop at the scene of an accident.

"That's a tough one because the first-degree, that's intent," Kelly-Waterfield said. "So that means you planned to run my dad down."

'All a bit shocked'

News of the death, the charges and the suspect have hit hard for the village of about 5,000 residents known for its popular brewery, cycling shops and cafes.

Family members and friends of Kelly's are appalled by the news of his death. Also stunned are the residents who knew Squires, who was involved in the arts and culture scene and volunteered for a local search and rescue group.

Cumberland Mayor Vickey Brown says her community is reeling.

"I think we're just all a bit shocked," Brown told CBC News earlier this week. "When something like this hits a small community, it's hard."

'I miss him'

The victim's sons say they had never heard of Squires, and they are pretty sure their dad hadn't either.

As for why Rod Kelly was riding on the shoulder of a fast thoroughfare between two towns, his kids say his dad often took the bus into town along with his bike, and would ride home.

On that particular night, the buses were still not running after a protracted labour dispute. They think their dad might have been on his bike to meet up with a friend or get beer.

Kelly-Waterfield also says his father usually wore bright clothes when he was cycling, put lights on his bike and wore a headlamp he used for his work as a heli-logger.

"That would light the whole highway up," he said.

One thing his sons know for sure is that they'll miss their dad's corny jokes, his fatherly advice and his no-nonsense approach to life.

"I just wish I could hang out with my dad again one more time," Skyler Kelly said, "and get to be able to say that I love him and that I miss him."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Maryse Zeidler

@MaryseZeidler

Maryse Zeidler is a reporter for CBC News in Vancouver, covering news from across British Columbia. You can reach her at maryse.zeidler@cbc.ca.

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    Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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