A small Westman community has been left to mourn the loss of a well-liked, longtime resident who recently died following a car crash.
Oak Lake Mayor Jeff Sigurdson said his close-knit community of about 390 people is in “shock” over the death of Ted Jenkins.
“I think Ted was a friend of everybody in Oak Lake,” Sigurdson said. “He was that kind of a guy.”
Jenkins, 68, died following a crash in the Rural Municipality of Cartier on the evening of Jan. 8.
He was the passenger in a Pontiac G6 which was being driven east by his wife, 63-year-old Joan, along the Trans-Canada Highway.
Their friend, 67-year-old Renee Findlay, who is from Oak Lake, was also a passenger in the car.
Reached Friday, Brian Jenkins said his brother was travelling to Winnipeg for medical tests the next day. He and his wife were also going to visit family in Winnipeg, and Findlay was going to do the same.
RCMP say that the Pontiac was headed east on the Trans-Canada Highway when a westbound Chevrolet Suburban SUV started to turn south off the highway onto Provincial Road 332 and was struck by the Pontiac.
Brian said there was no time for Joan to avoid impact with the Suburban. He said Ted, his wife and Findlay were all severely injured in the crash.
“The impact was so horrendous, it had to be,” Brian said, based on the injuries to his brother. “The injuries were quite substantial.”
Ted, who was in the back seat, is said to have been conscious while emergency personnel were on scene and asked that his wife and friend be removed from the vehicle first.
“He was just that kind of person,” Brian said. “I can see that being first on his mind, was to save everybody else.”
The Jenkins and Findlay were taken to hospital in Winnipeg and Ted later died from his injuries.
Brian said that Joan and Findlay, each of whose injuries included a number of broken bones, remain in hospital and face a long recovery.
He said Joan is now out of the intensive care unit, and her and Ted’s three adult children are taking turns at her bedside.
Ted’s 92-year-old mother, also from Oak Lake, travelled to Winnipeg to be with her daughter-in-law.
Police said the driver and the front passenger from the Suburban were treated and released by emergency workers. A 38-year-old woman who was a passenger in that vehicle was taken to hospital but was discharged on Jan. 11.
On Friday, an RCMP spokeswoman said the investigation continues and there’s no word yet whether any charges will be laid.
Alcohol is not considered a factor.
Brian said Ted was born in Shoal Lake but moved to Oak Lake with his family at a young age.
Described as helpful and considerate, he worked as a heavy equipment operator and ran his own business for a while.
“When he made a friend, he never lost a friend,” Brian said. “He certainly affected a lot of people.”
He worked in Brandon at one point, and was also a Canadian Pacific Railway officer for a time and lived in Winnipeg before settling back in Oak Lake.
He was retired at the time that he died.
“Fishing and hunting is what he lived for,” Brian said, adding that his brother also enjoyed training horses and dogs. “He had this great ability for training animals.”
Brian said his brother also had a heroic nature. He once received an award for rescuing people in a rowboat. He swam through high wind and waves and pushed the boat to shore.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be made.
Sigurdson said the thoughts of Oak Lake residents are with Joan and Findlay as they recover.
He said Findlay, whose family couldn’t immediately be reached on Friday, was born in Oak Lake and has lived there her entire life.