WAINWRIGHT, Alta. – A soldier from Ontario was killed and another injured in an off-duty motorcycle crash near the Alberta base where they had been part of training exercises for Afghanistan.
Master Cpl. John Xaysy, 26, died at the scene of the crash Thursday night after losing control of his motorcycle east of Wainwright, Defence Department officials said.
Xaysy, who was from Waterloo, Ont., was a member of the Royal Highland Fusiliers, a reserve infantry regiment based in Cambridge, Ont.
Cpl. Robert Anderson, 22, of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment based in St. Catharines, Ont., was treated at hospital and released.
The RCMP were investigating the crash.
Xaysy’s father Kasem said he knew the instant he saw the two soldiers on his doorstep that his son wasn’t coming home.
“My first thought was that something terrible had happened to Johnny,” he told the Waterloo Region Record on Friday night.
“We’re devastated,” said his cousin Julia Sukhaseum.
Sukhaseum told the Record that Xaysy’s family knew his work could take him to dangerous places but they are struggling to come to terms with his death.
“If it was a car bomb, we would have expected it,” said his cousin, Hongvichith Xaysy. “We were prepared to accept that kind of death.”
Canadian Forces spokesman Capt. Tom St. Denis said the two men were involved in Exercise Maple Defender at CFB Wainwright. The training exercise, which involved 1,100 Ontario-based reservists, wrapped up Tuesday.
Xaysy had served in Wainwright since January 2006, while Andersen has been with the training centre since the beginning of this year.
The two men worked as members of a team that portrayed Afghan villagers to help prepare Canadian troops for deployment in Afghanistan, St. Denis said.
“They dress as Afghan men, they grow their beards and they portray either villagers, Afghan national police or army, and also the Taliban insurgents in the exercises that we do.
“We’d been cleaning equipment and shutting things down for the last few days,” added St. Denis, who noted the men had been putting in long hours during training.
“It’s very sad, very tragic.”
Col. Craig King, commander of the Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre, met Friday with staff to announce the reservist’s death.
“We certainly join his family in mourning the death of a fine young man,” St. Denis said.
A memorial service is being planned on the base for Xaysy, although no date has been set.