Tracey Garand was just training with Winnipeg Transit when she met Irvine Fraser, the man she came to know as "Superman" — and a man she's now mourning after his violent death.
The 58-year-old Fraser, who went by his middle name, Jubal, was stabbed multiple times outside his bus early in the morning on Tuesday, Valentine's Day.
Emergency responders couldn't save him and he was pronounced dead shortly after the 2 a.m. attack on the University of Manitoba campus.
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"This is just a tragedy. It's unbelievable," Garand said as she stood Wednesday near the scene, taping a blue-coloured rose and a small Superman figurine to a makeshift memorial.
"I did that for [Irvine], who I call my Superman," she said.
It was eight years ago that Garand was standing at a bus stop outside city hall, waiting to head to the Transit garage for training.
A man walked past her, grabbed the backpack she had slung over one shoulder, and spun her around. As Garand stood startled, she saw a "blue flash" race past her and return a minute later.
It was Fraser in his Transit uniform.
"I didn't know Irvine at the time, but he went and got the guy and came back and said to me, 'You gotta be more careful,' and kind of gave me tips about Transit and what to expect — heads-up things to a newbie," Garand said.
"I asked him his name and he said 'Superman.' So every time I've seen him, I've always said 'Hi Superman,' because that's who he is to me. He was such a great guy.
"It's just crappy, really crappy. Nobody deserves this."
Garand, who fought back tears as she spoke of Fraser, said she and other coworkers are supporting each other by talking about him.
"All the good stuff about him. I haven't heard a bad thing about him, so that's the type of guy he was," she said.
"He was there for you. An absolutely awesome guy."
Brian Kyle Thomas, 22, has been charged with second-degree murder, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and failure to comply with a probation order following the attack.
Garand said she and many of her colleagues are on edge.
"You can't blame us, right? This happened out of the blue. Like, who expected something like this to [happen to] anybody?" she said.
"We're hauling precious cargo, that's the people we're taking home. And we want to take them home safely. And we want to get home to our families safely.
"Unfortunately, on a day of love, someone lost his life. And that's horrible, absolutely horrible."