People filled the lawn in front of Oak Bay’s Municipal Hall Thursday for a fundraising barbecue to remember Steve Seekins, a municipal worker killed on the job last week.
Volunteers were handing out brisket and pulled pork to a crowd of community members and municipal workers from across the region and collecting donations for the Seekins family.
The 52 year-old married father of two young children was struck and killed by an SUV while working on a manhole off Monterey Avenue near the fire hall.
The vehicle, driven by a 66-year-old Victoria woman, was heading northbound when it crossed into the southbound lane and jumped the sidewalk into a small park where Seekins was observing the flow of water in a manhole.
Oak Bay police have not provided an update on the investigation since the day of Seekins’ death. They did not respond to questions Thursday about whether investigators have ruled out a medical incident or intoxication as causes of the crash.
The event Thursday began with a procession of vehicles from Oak Bay, Victoria, Colwood, Saanich, Sooke, Metchosin, View Royal and the Capital Regional District, as well as a few private companies that work closely with Oak Bay crews.
Adam Major, an Oak Bay public works employee, organized the event, with the help of many others, from the district’s chief administrative officer to the business community.
“I barely had to send out any emails. It was just, let’s go, let’s get this done. It’s been an incredible outpouring of support,” Major said.
Major borrowed a 500-pound smoker and spent three days cooking brisket and pulled pork to prepare 1,200 servings for the fundraiser. Local grocery stores donated gift cards to purchase food for the barbecue.
All money raised will go to a fund set up for the Seekins family by CUPE 374, the union representing Oak Bay municipal workers. Direct donations to the fundraiser through the Community Savings Credit Union can be made by sending an e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’re hoping to buy the family some time, time to start their grieving process. We know that the day-to-day bills are not going to go away. As a fallen brother of ours, it’s the least we can do for his family is to allow them the time that they need to start their own grieving process,” Major said.
Oak Bay employees are reeling from the “senseless” death of their co-worker, said Pat Smith, Oak Bay’s foreman of public works.
“There’s definitely a lot of anxieties. We work out on the roads every day. And we take for granted a lot of times that we believe we’re safe. We think we’re doing all the right things,” Smith said. “Steve was just doing his job.”
Smith, who created an online fundraiser that has collected more than $110,000 in the week since Seekins’ death, described Seekins as an “absolutely genuine person” who came to work every day happy and left at the end of the day happy.
Smith and other Oak Bay staff have been visiting Seekins’ family to help out with odd jobs, like fixing a trampoline and cutting fruit bushes.
Smith said there is talk of naming the small park on Monterey Avenue where Seekins was killed after him.
A memorial is planned for next week.
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