After a 60-year-old German tourist was shot in the head while driving west along Highway 1A on Aug. 3, one Cochranite reached out to demonstrate the usually kind-natured people that live in the area.
“I thought, man, if there’s something I can do with accommodation or food and a place to stay, then I could help in some way,” said Micheal Fedun, adding that his mother speaks German.
The tourist’s vehicle had driven off the road and crashed into a tree after he was shot. The driver was airlifted to a Calgary hospital while the three passengers were taken to hospital with minor injuries.
“It was awful, I mean what happened, that was just very uncharacteristic of our community,” Fedun said.
“I couldn’t imagine what that would be like – being on holidays and then having it all torn apart like that. One minute you’re on a beautiful, scenic drive to the mountains, and then the next minute you’re driving off the road.”
“I thought, I have a place, I have space in my home, and I just wanted to reach out.”
The German consulate did respond to Fedun, thanking him but declined his offer because the family has a relative in Alberta who could help.
A GoFund me page was set up the day of the shooting by Hubertus Liebrecht, the Honorary Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany. The page is closing soon and as of Wednesday raised $11,700 exceeding its goal of $8,500.
“I want to explain why funds were needed the same day of the shooting,” read his post on the GoFundMe page. “Only the victim had a credit card to cover the expenses of the vacation. His wife could not remember his PIN in all her emotions and after having tried the wrong PIN several times the card was frozen for security reasons. Also, all items in the rental car were seized by the RCMP after the shooting.”
In addition, the family members’ clothing was soiled, hotels needed to be booked and international calls to Germany were being made, Liebrecht wrote.
“That is the moment when you need help from other people. You all have showed that you were there in a spontaneous and heart touching way. The real Canadians are extremely wonderful people.”
While there were concerns from the Cochrane and Calgary community about how it might affect tourism in the area, Fedun said he’s just happy the family will be taken care of.
“I just couldn’t stop thinking about what it would be like to see my partner like that and being airlifted to the hospital – that would just destroy me,” Fedun said. “And how scary that would be, to be in a foreign country and potentially not know the language and thinking about all the costs that could be involved with something like this.”
Following the Friday morning shooting, matters progressed quickly as police searched for witnesses of the incident, including an RV that had left the scene earlier. RCMP were also on the hunt for a black sedan suspected to be the culprit vehicle.
Friday afternoon, police descended on the East End and seized a black Chrysler Sebring. At the same time, a woman was briefly detained by police and then released.
According to a neighbour, Annemarie Stevenson the woman was distraught.
“She’s hurting right now,” said Stevenson.
Stevenson was also familiar with a man who was arrested Friday evening but released the next day. She described him as “troubled” during his teenage years. “I used to hang out with a friend of his,” she said.
RCMP are asking for patience from the public as they continue the investigation.
“We know how much the public is interested, and wanting an update on this terrible incident, but we are mindful of not compromising our investigation,” said Inspector Lauren Weare, an officer in charge of the Cochrane Detachment. “A solid investigation, which will stand the tests of the court, is methodical and takes time. We thank the public for their patience while our members focus on their tasks.”
The police originally believed the shooting to be an act of road rage but are now investigating other theories. RCMP said it was not a random incident and neither the German man, who is still recovering in the hospital after undergoing surgery nor his family was the intended targets of the shooting.
The tourist remains in hospital after a successful surgery and his condition has been described as critical but stable.