Andrés Salek was looking forward to graduating from the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., and moving into a more hands-on role in the Canadian Army before he died in a tragic crash, recalls his friend Denis Zvynka.
“He always told me how he was excited about his next steps,” said Zvynka.
Salek was poised to graduate with a degree in military and strategic studies, but early April 29, Salek died.
A vehicle carrying him and fellow fourth-year officer cadets Jack Hogarth, Andrei Honciu and Broden Murphy went into the water shortly after 2 a.m. at Point Frederick, a peninsula that sits between Kingston Harbour and Navy Bay on the St. Lawrence River.
The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, the independent arm of the Canadian Forces Military Police, is investigating.
Zvynka, who met Salek during their first year of high school in the western Toronto community of Etobicoke said he immediately texted his friend, then called him when he saw the news last week.
“None of the texts went through. I had this terrible feeling in my stomach. As more time went on, I just kept getting worse and worse until I found out he was actually one of the victims,” he said.
Friend admired his stamina
Zvynka and Salek bonded over sushi, beer and basketball, Zvynka said.
They also made the transition to Kingston together: Zvynka going off to study at Queen’s University, Salek to the Canadian Armed Forces’ military college, which has been granting degrees since 1959.
Salek was preparing to become an armour officer, said Commodore Josée Kurtz, the college’s commanding officer.
According to the Canadian Armed Forces website, armour officers provide reconnaissance and direct-fire support in battle from armoured fighting vehicles such as tanks.
Zvynka called Salek a “selfless” friend who put the needs of others before himself.
“Now that he’s gone, it makes you remember back on those moments,” Zvynka said.
Zvynka also admired Salek’s stamina after the pair would stay out late in Kingston.
“He would tell me, ‘By the way, I have to be up in three hours for drilling.’ I never knew how he would do it, but the next morning he would send me a picture or something and it would be him at 6 a.m. out by the lake. And I was still hours away from waking up.”
Zvynka said Salek had finished his fourth-year exams and was hanging out at the base. They made plans to get together in Toronto this summer.
“He was just a kind person. With him gone, I feel like the average kindness in a person drops drastically.”
The college said details about a memorial service will be revealed at the discretion of the victims’ families.
On Monday, the House of Commons observed a moment of silence in memory of Salek and the other lost cadets.
Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Alex Ruff, a retired Canadian Armed Forces colonel, was among those who also made remarks.
In the <a href=”https://twitter.com/OurCommons?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@OurCommons</a> today, I paid tribute to <a href=”https://twitter.com/RMCCanadaCMR?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@RMCCanadaCMR</a> Officer Cadets Jack Hogarth, Andrei Honciu, Broden Murphy & Andrés Salek who tragically lost their lives last Friday. My deepest condolences & sympathies to all the families & friends. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/RiP?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#RiP</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/TDV?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#TDV</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/LestWeForget?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#LestWeForget</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/rmc97reunion?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@rmc97reunion</a> <a href=”https://t.co/sUQYKLNkTH”>pic.twitter.com/sUQYKLNkTH</a>