A member of Calgary's Congolese community says it is rallying around a woman whose daughter and husband were killed in a multi-vehicle crash Wednesday night.
Pierre Mulamba, 37, was supposed to pick his son up from school that evening — and his seven-year-old daughter, Ninelle Tshamwena, insisted on coming with her father and 11-year-old sister for the drive, according to Mathieu Kalenga.
An acquaintance of the victims, Kalenga says he knew them through the Congolese community, and visited the mother on Friday.
"[Tshamwena] said, 'No, no, Daddy, I want to go with you,'" he said. "And that's how the girl joined the father."
Mulamba was to celebrate his birthday the next day, according to Kalenga.
But around 5:20 p.m., Mulamba and Tshamwena were killed when their sedan was rear-ended by a three-quarter ton pickup truck travelling northbound on Macleod Trail.
The impact caused the sedan to spin around and cross into the southbound lanes, where a half-ton truck driving southbound on the road struck the sedan again.
"The car went to the other side, in the other lane — completely opposite side of the road," Kalenga said.
Mulamba's oldest daughter was seriously injured in the accident, but survived. Police said that she is now back at home.
Kalenga said the mother is inconsolable. And most of her family is in the Congo.
"The [Calgary Congolese] community is all around her," Kalenga siad.
"It's very, very, very, very tough. We are trying to do our best, so that she's not going to feel very lonely."
School organizes fundraiser, therapy dogs
The community is not alone in trying to support the family.
Two GoFundMe campaigns have been set up online, including one by the École de La Source, the school where Tshamwena and her injured sister were enrolled.
The FrancoSud School Board that oversees École de La Source told CBC News in an emailed statement that a place will be set up at its entrance, to honour the memory of the victims.
People will be able to leave a card or drawing there for the family, it said in an emailed statement.
The Calgary Police Service will also send a team with therapeutic dogs to the school on Nov. 29.
"This intervention will be overseen by professionals who have experience with this kind of situation," said Antoine Begin, who is with the school board.
Investigation into crash ongoing, police say
On Wednesday, police said the investigation into the circumstances of the collision are ongoing, and there is no evidence that the driver of the three-quarter ton truck — who received no injuries — was impaired.
He continued driving north after the collision, and crossed into the southbound lanes before driving onto the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks before stopping.
He fled on foot but got only a short distance away before being caught.
Police charged Calgarian Yannick Joseph Bouchard, 51, with failure to comply after a crash resulting in death, two counts of dangerous operation causing death, one count of dangerous operation causing bodily harm, two counts of hit and run causing death and one count of hit and run causing bodily harm.
Calgary police are asking anyone who witnessed the collision, or has any dashcam footage, to contact them at 403-266-1234. Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers through its website or by calling 1-800-222-8477.