Bus drivers across the valley will be wearing black ribbons and holding a moment of silence this Friday to commemorate Caesar Rosales, a Kelowna resident who was killed Oct. 30, 2014 while commuting home.
Rosales was a regular transit user, and the random killing has had a lingering effect on the men and women who often shuttled him around the city, says Scott Lovell, president of local 1722 of the Amalgamated Transit Union.
“We’re not Vancouver, or some big city where this is something you would expect to happen,” said Lovell, who is also a bus driver.
“This is Kelowna. It’s a safe and close-knit community. It changed the foundation for a lot of us as drivers.”
Area bus drivers, he said, are very community oriented, and consider the men, women and children they drive around their friends and neighbours.
Having such a violent act happen in their midst, he explained, has been a transformative experience, prompting regular conversation about the crime to this day and even sending some to find new employment opportunities.
“This was a real culture shock, and that’s what is really upsetting our crew,” Lovell said.
“If something as horrific as this can happen, we’re no longer the special community we knew ourselves to be, where everybody knows and takes care of each other. That’s a big shift.”
The man charged with the 55-year-old’s killing is Tyler Jack Newton.
He was arrested a day after Rosales died from a slash wound to the neck and charged with second-degree murder.
A preliminary inquiry aimed at convincing a provincial court judge there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial was held earlier this month, nearly a year to when the crime occurred.
The details of that hearing are under a publication ban.
Even though the courts are dealing with the crime, Lovell said that the transit union will be refocusing its efforts on dealing with the trauma of Rosales’s killing after the anniversary has passed. How that will happen remains to be seen.
Last year, as news of Rosales’s killing was spread, Grant Stevens, a coworker of Rosales at Flightcraft, also said his sense of community was rocked by the crime. In large part, because Rosales was such an unlikely victim.
Rosales went to work at the aerospace company as a business systems analyst just two years ago, by way of Vancouver and, 10 years before that, the Philippines.
“He was an upstanding citizen, in our estimation. He was a polite, well-spoken, intelligent individual,” said Stevens.
“Interestingly enough, he was quiet and reserved until you got him into something he liked. Then he was passionate.”
Referring to a series of videos that Rosales posted on YouTube where he is seen skydiving, zip-lining, bungee jumping and even heading to Vegas adventures, Stevens pointed out that moving to the Okanagan prompted Rosales to live life to the fullest.
That included being a conscientious citizen, which is what led him to the No. 8 bus last year.
“He believed in public transportation. With the job and income level he had, he could have had a vehicle if he wanted to, but when we interviewed him in 2012, he said he wanted to know if he’d be able to use public transit before he took the job,” said Stevens.
The commemoration will be held at noon on Friday.
Last year transit workers pulled over and had a minute of silence as Rosales’s funeral was held.
This year the moment of silence will be more muted, and members of the amalgamated transit union will take part from wherever they may find themselves—the buses, however, will likely still roll.
Lovell would like to encourage anyone in the community who remembers the incident to take part.
“You know, it’s kind of strange, I have no way to get ahold of his family, to let them know we’re doing this,” said Lovell.
“I’d like to, but I don’t know if this is only for them, or the entire community.”