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Grad class raising funds to honour fallen first responder Wayne Kernachan

An artist's rendering of the sculpture to honour Wayne Kernachan

Castlegar’s 2019 graduating class has come together in a project that proves ‘kids these days’ can be pretty spectacular, as they honour a local first responder who was killed in a tragic MVI in November.

Wayne Kernachan, owner of Keegz South Country Towing, was only 51 when he tried to help a motorist in distress and was struck and killed by an oncoming vehicle. Kernachan was a fixture of the Genelle/Castlegar landscape: a father of three, a respected and hardworking business owner, and a diligent first responder to a plethora of motor vehicle incidents in the region.

“A lot of the grad students were really impacted by his death, and really moved by this group of unsung heroes,” said grad mom Amy Bell (congratulations to her daughter, Kierstin). “The visual of the convoy of tow trucks was very powerful.”

She said every year, the grad class endeavours to produce a legacy project – something that will resonate for future students and the community as a whole.

“I think in the past, it’s been kind of tricky to choose a project - to get 100 students to unanimously agree on something (of this scale).”

Not so this year.

The students enthusiastically agreed on the need to have a permanent local memorial for Kernachan, and approached Castlegar Sculpture Walk to see about including a small commissioned sculpture in Wayne’s honour. Despite it being months after the deadline, Sculpture Walk graciously made an exception to include the project.

“I reached out to an artist I know in Cranbrook, Paul Reimer, who is a blacksmith, and told him what we were looking for,” Bell said (to see Reimer’s work, go to https://paulreimer.ca/ ). “After we talked for about 15 minutes, he said, ‘I think this man’s impact was bigger than a one-foot sculpture.’”

She said he mulled it over for a few days, and came back with the conceptual design you can now see attached to this article, which is a bench designed after the Keegz flatbed truck.

“It’s a $5,500 project,” Bell said. “The grads have contributed $2,000, and we’re hoping to raise the other $3,500 with our Go Fund Me page.”

The page can be viewed by clicking here, and has a touching description of the project’s intent, “This year's grad class wish to honor this man as well as all tow truck drivers as the often unsung heroes responding to accidents. Wayne was a huge part of our community, and our hope is to have a piece to commemorate his life and impact. We would be extremely grateful for the financial support of the community in which Wayne worked and lived - let's partner together to celebrate his life and legacy.”

The sculpture will be entered into the Castlegar Sculpture Walk from May to October, so it’s important that they raise the funds by the end of April. The grads also intend to approach Kernachan’s family and the City of Castlegar to determine the best option for the sculpture’s permanent placement after October.

“This year’s grad class is particularly community minded, and so thoughtful,” Bell said. “They are so invested in making sure Wayne is remembered and honoured.”

Again, the link to donate is https://www.gofundme.com/honoring-wayne-kernachan?member=1899760&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=fb_co_campmgmt_w&fbclid=IwAR0w5VbmgqsmGnEFTj12bUg6BtmEH-gd3Ozo9nNIdX_xQOJgiy1lOSccJN4

And from The Castlegar Source, congratulations to the grads of 2019!