This weekend the community of Coldstream lost a father to be, an avid downhill mountain biker, a coach and a friend.
Tragedy struck when 34-year-old Adrian John (AJ) Cleary and a group of six went snowmobiling in the Monashee Mountains, about 90 kilometres east of Vernon on Saturday.
At about 2:15 p.m. on Saturday, while his group was near the Keefer Lake Resort, an avalanche buried Cleary under five metres of snow.
Despite a valiant attempt at a rescue by friends and nearby support, Cleary succumbed to his injuries the next day in hospital.
Since his passing cycling and snowmobiling friends have come forward in droves to tell their stories about the man and what a loss it is for the community.
Cleary was an avid downhill mountain biker who was sponsored by the Skyride Bike Shop. On Monday they spent a lot of time remembering their fallen friend.
“He was a great guy; he was a very close friend of the shop here. We sponsored him for years in his racing days and he just continued to be a great a guy full of passion for the sport and full of passion for life,” explained Bike Shop Owner Mike Giesbrecht.
“Everything he did, he did to the fullest. There wasn’t anything that he did half-way.”
Cleary was a dedicated and hard working ER nurse in Vernon and was recognized as always giving 110 per cent.
“I was never there when he was working, but all the people that I’ve talked to said he was on his game all the time and did everything to his fullest,” said Giesbrecht.
Just last summer Cleary married the love of his life Laura, whom is expecting their first child, a child the whole community is now rallying behind. They have created a website and trust fund for them.
“It has been tough for sure, we are really still in shock and trying to put all the pieces together still, it has been a struggle for all of us,” added Giesbrecht.
Friends Castanet spoke to Monday remembered him as a well-loved bundle of energy, a sentiment shared by the bike shop.
“Every time someone comes in the shop that knew him we just have to hug them and console them and it is still so shocking. You still think any minute he is going to come bouncing through the door, he is one of those guys like from Cheers, where everyone knows your name and they would all yell Norm! we would all yell AJ!,” stated a solemn Giesbrecht, was able to smile at the memory of his friend who meant so much to so many.
A website to honour AJ and collect donations for his unborn child has been set up. Here is the opening sentiment:
'It is with deep sorrow we have to announce the passing AJ Cleary, he was an amazing person and will be missed my many. AJ leaves behind an incredible wife who is currently carrying their first child. This fund is to assist Laura during her time of need, to handle expenses, as well as strengthen the future of their unborn child.' Alternatively to this site, donations may be made to their TD Banking fund using Account # 6099921 Branch code # 98860
Silver Star Resort, where AJ worked, has also stepped forward and created a trust for the family, you can read that article here.