CALGARY — Arsh Brar didn’t come home Saturday night, but his family didn’t worry. Responsible, clean-living and never a kid to get into trouble, Harvinder Brar says he was a little concerned, but not really worried about his 20-year-old son, reported QMI News Agency.
“He was only a couple of minutes away — we tried him all night on his phone, but we knew he was OK. He was playing games at a friend’s house,” said Harvinder.
“The police came to our door in the morning.” The officers had the worst news possible. Arsh, who’d just celebrated his 20th birthday, was dead.
The University of Calgary business student was on his way home, driving the cherished Mercedes-Benz he’d been given as a gift for getting into the school.
It was just after three in the morning when Arsh crossed the intersection of Country Hills Blvd. and Shaganappi Trail N.W., having spent the night playing video games with friends.
From the other direction, a Toyota Yaris blew through the red light at high speed, slamming into his Mercedes sedan with deadly force.
“It hurts, because due to somebody else’s mistake, we are paying for it,” said Harvinder.
“It’s a real shock.”
The pain stems not just from the crash, but from alcohol. Police say the 25-year-old woman behind the wheel of the Yaris was drunk — and she’ll soon be facing serious charges.
That driver was carted away with minor injuries, while her 21-year-old passenger, Danni Victoria Russell, died at the scene.
To have lost his youngest son to drinking and driving is an irony not lost on Harvinder.
Unlike other parents, worried about their teens making poor decisions around drugs and alcohol, he says Arsh was so focused on his studies there was none of that.
“He’s not into drugs or any drinking, nothing at all — none of his friends are,” said Harvinder.
On Monday, those friends gathered at the family home to offer support and share stories about the young man with the impressive hair — Arsh sometimes spiked it straight up, as if caught in the wind.
It was a fitting style for a young man who loved fast vehicles. As well as his beloved Mercedes, Arsh had a Yamaha motorcycle and matching leathers.
But his friends say behind the stylish look and slick wheels was a very serious young student, who was focused on graduating with top honours and landing a great job.
“He never got a chance to really live his life and have fun,” said Arbab Safdar, who spoke with Arsh just hours before he died.
“He used to say he’d live his life after university.”
That’s not to say Brar was all books and boring study — his friends say he was a vibrant person who cared about the people in his life, though maybe not quite as much as cricket.
“He loved cricket and he was really good at it,” laughed Safdar.
“Whenever he took an interest in a sport, he was always the best at it. And he loved to sleep too.”
The two friends he spent his last hours with, including Eddie Khan, didn’t say whether Brar won the video games they were playing until the wee hours of Sunday morning.
Khan focused on the drunk driving that allegedly killed his friend — a friend he describes as a brother.
“You never expect it will happen, and you can’t imagine how it feels until it happens to someone you know,” said Khan.
“You hear about people being hurt by drunk driving, but to go through it is completely different. “He was more than a brother to me — we were always together.”
There were three of them together that night, and Khan says Brar only had a five-minute drive to get home. “I could never imagine this would come to impact us — now that it has, we just want people to know,” said Khan.
“If we can convey one message to people, it’s please don’t drink and drive. “All we ask is for people to think twice, before they lose an Arsh from their life.”