A convoy of more than 100 truckers rolled through Nanaimo Sunday in tribute to an eight-year-old boy who died after being struck by a pickup truck earlier this month.
Linden Baglo was riding his bicycle with his 10-year-old sister when he rode out of a driveway and into the path of the truck near their Nelson Street home on Jan. 6.
Nanaimo RCMP ruled out speed, alcohol and drugs as factors in the collision and called the death a “terrible tragedy.”
Organizers of the Convoy for Linden initially expected a dozen or so truckers to take part, but the numbers grew as word spread.
“It started getting bigger and bigger and bigger,” said Pete Fry, who organized the convoy with fellow truckers Duane IronHawk-Tommy and John Plumpton.
By Sunday morning, all three men said they were overwhelmed by the sight of trucks stretching along the Trans-Canada Highway near Duke Point.
“A lot of people look at truckers like rough, tough guys and I bet every single one of them had a tear on their face today,” Plumpton said.
IronHawk-Tommy attributes the turnout to the impact that Linden’s death had on everyone in the close-knit community of drivers that includes Linden’s stepfather and Fry’s friend, Garrett Van Vaals.
“It’s all to do with your children,” IronHawk-Tommy said. “That’s what most of us are working so hard for and that’s what I think brought all of us together.
“If anything happened to any of our children — any of the drivers that were out there today — we’d all bind back together and help out in any way that we can.”
He said the drivers decorated their trucks in orange — Linden’s favourite colour — and donned the paraphernalia of his beloved Vancouver Canucks.
“We all geared up in all of our Canucks stuff — jerseys, flags what have you — and anything that was orange that we could put on our trucks, we did,” IronHawk-Tommy said.
From Duke Point, the convoy rolled along the highway and into Nanaimo, eventually surrounding the Vancouver Island Conference Centre where Linden’s memorial service was held Sunday.
“That was the goal, to have trucks completely surround that building, because we all know that Linden was in that building for his service,” Plumpton said. “So my thoughts were, ‘Let’s surrounded him with what he liked, trucks, the Canucks and his favorite colour orange.’ ”
Fry, Plumpton and IronHawk-Tommy all said they hope the tribute provided a measure of comfort to Linden’s family at a terrible time.
“They have a big community around them that’s going to rally and be there for them,” IronHawk-Tommy said. “Grief is a hard thing to deal with alone and I hope that we’ve shown them they’re not alone.”
Van Vaals posted a video on the Convoy for Linden Facebook page, thanking his fellow truckers.
“From the bottom of my heart, to all my trucker brothers, everyone that showed up, everyone that came to the convoy — all of you — I love you guys all,” he said. “You’re my brothers and what you did for us, for that little kid, I’ll never forget it.”
— With a file from Katie DeRosa