What should have been one of the happiest times has turned into a nightmare for an Okanagan family who’s oldest adult son died in a tragic single vehicle car accident near Kamloops Jan 12.
Only weeks after finding out he and his fiancé were expecting their first child, Leon Marchand Holmes died during a single vehicle rollover near Kamloops on Highway 1.
|Leon Marchand Holmes and fiancé Denise Lalonde. facebook photo|
He was on his way home from his second day of work at New Gold mine near Kamloops. The 36-year-old was a passenger in a car that left the roadway, rolled, and came to a crashing stop around 5:30 p.m. that Saturday night. The driver was not seriously injured. Marchand Holmes died on impact.
“This is a mother’s nightmare,” his mother Marty Marchand Ring said during a phone call with the Review from her Olalla home. “His fiancé is two months pregnant. All that’s left of him is the baby she carries and our memories. That’s all that’s left.”
Marchand Holmes, who grew up in Hedley in the Similkameen Valley, found out just two weeks before his tragic death he and his fiancé Denise Lalonde were expecting their first child.
“At least he got to share the news with his immediate family two weeks prior to his passing. He was excited and looking forward to his future. He was finally becoming a father,” she said.
A light in the darkness, Marchand Ring and Marchand Holmes’ younger sister Rose Holmes went to the first ultrasound.
“It was wonderful. We got to hear the heartbeat and we know there’s a part of him here,” she said.
There was no life insurance from work as he was just two days on the job, so coworkers started a Gofundme campaign (www.gofundme.com/leon-marchand).
“We’re hoping to get them up on their feet. The Gofundme page was started by his coworkers at New Gold and a woman Leon graduated high school from put out that Amazon gift cards can be bought and sent to Denise to buy things for the baby.”
Marchand Ring said her son was born to be a father. He was known locally by many young people in the valley as ‘Uncle Leon.’
“All the little girls called him Uncle Leon. So many of the kids called him Uncle Leon. He paired little girls up with their horses. He would find the horses, work them and pair them up so they were a good match,” she said.
|Leon Marchand Holmes. facebook photo|
On top of a horse or working them was Marchand Holmes’ “happy place,” his mother said.
“He often credited his horses for keeping him out of trouble growing up. He was always on a horse from the time he was small. He did well, my son. He graduated high school and received the Dogwood that year. He worked in Grand Prairie in the oil fields, Copper Mountain mine. He always helped out,” she said.
In addition to his family and horses, Marchand Holmes’ other passion was hunting.
Family and friends would go hunting often. After those trips the freezers of many family members and people in the community would be filled.
“He was like a sniper, eh. Many times it would be him out with his dad, me, his twin brothers, little sister or other friends and family. He would drop a moose and we would gut it. Those are things I’ll never be able to do again,” she said.
She said many would remember her son by his big smile, dimples and infectious laugh.
“Leon was known to be quite a cheeky guy, teasing and joking. He could make people laugh,” she said.
Marchand Holmes loved hockey during his younger years as a player and then later helping his nephews by buying equipment when needed and watching their games. He also loved playing basketball “even if it meant playing in his work boots,” his mom said.
A service was held in Hedley on Jan. 18. More than 25 people showed up on horseback to pay their respects.
“It was quite the sight. It was really nice. It would be what he wanted. He loved this valley. He would look out and say isn’t this place beautiful.”
To donate to the Gofundme campaign click here.
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