Bright future taken too soon

A community is mourning the tragic loss of a young man.

Friday morning, just before 6:30 a.m., 18-year-old Derek Flowers-Johnson was killed when his Toyota Corolla collided with a semi truck on Highway 97, just south of UBC Okanagan. 

The young man grew up in Oyama and graduated from George Elliot Secondary in 2018.

He was a youth councillor with Lake Country City Council and also participated in Lake Country's youth firefighting program.

He was currently attending Kelowna's Okanagan College, enrolled in the welding program there.

Bayley Hurdle, a friend of the Flowers-Johnson family, says the young man “was a very happy kid” who had a “very bright future ahead of him.”

“He was a very funny guy, always a jokester and kept a smile on everyone's faces,” Hurdle said.

“Derek won tons of awards – after high school he won five bursaries and he was on the honour roll and all that.”

She says his whole family is very close, and they're “all amazing people.”

Derek's sister Alexis posted to Facebook Friday: “You are my best friend. I love you. I'll miss you forever.”

Saturday morning, Rider Ventures Wildfire and Flood Protection, which offers firefighting training programs, took to Facebook to remember Derek.

“Yesterday we lost a member of our Rider Ventures family,” the post reads. “Derek Flowers-Johnson was humble, driven, determined, and inspiring. We will miss Derek’s ability to make us laugh, big smile and even bigger heart. His passing will deeply affect us all.”

"He was a great young man – always smiling, laughing, cheerful, very hard working and humble," another person added to Rider Ventures' post. "If you were having a bad day he would brighten your day."

Hurdle has set up a GoFundMe page for Derek's family during this time.

“I started the GoFundMe page because I don't want them to even have to worry or think about their expenses right now,” she said, adding the family owns and operates the Cattlemen's Club restaurant at Vernon's O'Keefe Ranch.

“They're just trying to process the news from yesterday.”

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