Victim remembered, driver charged in fatal Edmonton car crash

An Edmonton man killed in a single-vehicle car crash is being remembered by his family as a generous, caring person with strong ties to his community.

Driver faces seven charges, including dangerous driving causing death

Faisal Yousef, the victim of a single-vehicle car crash on Friday, is being remembered by his family as a virtuous and caring man. (Submitted by Faisa Yousef)

Edmonton police have charged a 25-year old man with dangerous driving causing death in connection to a crash that killed three people on Friday, including 32-year old Faisal Yousef.

Edmonton police announced Oscar Benjumea had been charged with three counts of dangerous driving causing death on Saturday. Benjumea is also facing three counts of failure to stop at the scene of an accident and one count of operating a vehicle while disqualified.

Benjumea fled the scene of the crash early Friday morning only to be arrested at his southwest Edmonton home around noon later that day, police say. 

Faisal Yousef was one of three passengers killed when Benjumea's silver two-door Audi slammed into a south Edmonton Starbucks shortly after 2:00 a.m. on Friday. 

Faisal Yousef as a child alongside his sister Faisa and father Mohamoud. (Submitted by Faisa Yousef)

Since the crash, Faisa Yousef says she's been overcome by childhood memories of her brother, who just celebrated his 32nd birthday last weekend. The two were the closest in age, just a year apart, in a family of six children.

"It was just so sudden, it's tragic and we're at a loss for words. We don't know how to feel," she said in an interview with CBC News on Saturday. 

"He was my best friend. He was always there for me." 

'Keeping his memory alive'

The siblings were entering a new chapter in their relationship. Faisal was no longer just an older brother, but also an uncle to her 16-month-old son. 

"It's just really heartbreaking that my baby won't really get to know his uncle because he was taken away from him. That was all that I could think about. My child never got to see the amazing human being that he was," Faisa said. 

"I'm just going to have to keep his memory alive for my son." 

Faisal was selfless, his sister said, always willing to uplift and support his family. When she got married, Faisal was supportive and welcomed her husband into the family. 

"That was the best moment of my life and I got to share that with my brother," she said. 

Police were called to Calgary Trail and 55th Avenue around 2:20 a.m. after an Audi struck the wall of a Starbucks. (Art Raham/CBC)

Faisal embraced Edmonton after the family moved from Toronto in 2010, cultivating a bond with his adoptive city he was reluctant to break even for brief trips, his sister said. 

"He loved Edmonton," she said. "This was his city." 

Faisa remembers him as an activist who spoke out against injustice and supported the Black Lives Matter movement. 

"He's leaving behind a legacy . . . he stood for everything that is right," she said. 

Faisal's family set up an online fundraiser to cover his funeral costs, exceeding their $10,000 goal within a day. They planned to hold a vigil at the site of the crash, the Starbucks on Calgary Trail at 55th Avenue, at 7:00 p.m. Saturday. 

CBC News has not confirmed the identities of the other two passengers, women aged 20 and 21, who were killed in the crash. 

Driver to appear before judge Monday

Benjumea was still recovering from non-life-threatening injuries in hospital on Saturday afternoon, police said. 

He is expected to appear in court or by teleconference at his bail hearing scheduled for Monday. 

Witnesses said they saw a bloodied driver walk away from the crash around 2 a.m. Friday. 

"He didn't run. He was walking, he was a little bit frantic," said Josh Sahunta, who said he was nearly hit by the car before it crashed into the Starbucks.

The car appeared to strike the exterior building head on, shattering the glass entrance doors, smashing bricks from the facade and leaving the vehicle compacted and mangled. Investigators believe excessive speed was a factor in the crash.

Documents obtained by CBC News show the Audi is registered to Oscar Benjumea from Stayner, Ont. 

Bud King CEO Cameron Kane identified Benjumea as a partner in the local cannabis business. 

With files from Jamie Malbeuf