Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Strangeness of Fate

"I'm still trying to convince myself it's a dream. They were both gone on the same day. I thought, my God, it couldn't be real, it couldn't be. But at least they're both together now."
"Koorosh was so attached to his dad after Maryam passed. It's going to be hard, very hard for him. We just hope that he will be strong through these hard days."
"It's not easy when you immigrate here and you don't have anybody. You come with a big hope for your life, for yourself and your kid, and to end up being like this is a tragedy."
Gina Masnadi, Calgary
Maryam Rashidi and her son Koorosh, 6
Maryam Rashidi and her six-year-old son Koorosh are seen in this family photo. (Submitted by the family)

In Calgary two years ago, two young thugs decided they would fill the vehicle they were driving at a gas station, and just casually drive off. The attendant at the station, Maryam Rashidi, took her employment seriously. Perhaps too seriously. So seriously that it cost her her life. It's doubtful that her employer, any employer for that matter, would want someone to endanger themselves as she did by running after the vehicle, in an effort to stop the driver and passenger, and remind them that they hadn't paid for the gas that was enabling them to drive off.
"'Go, go, go, go, there's somebody following us,' so I hammer the gas,. He [his passenger] told me some bitch was chasing us down."
"I kept reversing to go around and she kept f--king jumping in front of the car,  I told her to move."
"We tried for option two [driving off; option one was spraying the woman with bear spray as a deterrent] because we didn't want to hurt anybody."
"We were going 160 [km/h] down the road. That thing can go 250 K. This guy [the rightful owner of the truck they stole] put money into that truck ... over 100 grand."
"I could rock that truck forever ... it turned on a dime going 160."
Joshua Mitchell, 22, Calgary thief, guilty of manslaughter
Maryam Rashidi and her husband Ahmad Shallo had engineering degrees when they emigrated from Iran to Canada three years ago. They both found employment in Calgary, but both lost their jobs shortly after arriving and working for several months. So Maryam took a job as a gas station attendant. She hadn't been very long in her new job when her path in life intersected with that of a young man who would later be charged with second degree murder in her death.

Days earlier the young man had stolen a charged-up truck and was driving it around, a friend beside him when he gassed it up at the service station where Maryam worked.

The powerful truck, one with a take-off speed and handling that quite impressed the two young men, had taken $133 of fuel, when they drove off without paying. Maryam Rashidi was outraged and she pursued the truck and its driver. Who had debated with his passenger whether they should rid themselves of the woman chasing them by spraying bear spray at her, or evading her insistence that they pay, by driving off.

The station attendant, just days into her new job, had chased them to a red light which stopped the truck, and was pounding on the driver's window for attention, insisting they pay for the fuel.

The debate between the two young men ended with the choice to simply ignore her and drive off quickly. When they did, the truck smashed into the woman, but they kept driving, while behind them witnesses -- a doctor, a nurse and a firefighter, attempted to save the woman's life. As the truck had pulled away, they saw her foot caught in the wheel well, and the truck running over her as she fell. She later died in hospital.

And the two men hid out at a friend's house for several days. Until police came calling and made the arrest.

The driver who had remorselessly resisted the frantic woman's demands that they do the decent thing and pay for what they had taken, later wrote a letter of apology to Maryam Rashidi's husband Ahmad Shallo, and to their son, Koorosh.

Just a month ago, the case finally went to trial and Joshua Mitchell was found guilty of a lesser charge of manslaughter. He is to be sentenced at a later date, this summer. Maryam's husband, Ahmad, will not be present at the sentencing hearing. If friends like Gina Masnadi, are successful, they will help to bring Maryam's mother over from Iran to visit and to attend the August sentencing.

Ahmad Shallo had moved with his motherless son Koorosh, to British Columbia, to take up residence there. This week he was driving back to Calgary to remember Maryam on the anniversary of her death, to visit her grave. With him was his new wife, and his son, seven-year-old Koorosh. On a highway in British Columbia as they were driving to their destination, they were involved in a collision.

Ahmad Shallo died in that collision, while his new wife was seriously injured. Koorosh, sitting in the back, was uninjured. He is now in the care of family friends, hoping somehow to be able to cope with a child traumatized by being recently doubly orphaned.

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