An Edmonton family changed forever on August 14.
“Our dad texted me that morning, just a normal morning,” Breigh Cohen said. “He’s texting[ed] every morning to ask about her grandchildren and see what they were doing. And I knew he would go for a ride later.
His parents, Jim and Annie McDonald, went for a motorcycle ride every Sunday.
“They loved taking a leisurely walk across the country just to see the scenery,” she said.
Around noon that Sunday, police said the motorcycle Cohen’s parents were riding was struck head-on by a vehicle.
Cohen discovered that evening that his parents had been killed.
“My whole world has stopped,” she said.
“To say we are devastated would be an understatement. They lived just for their families and us really – none of us know what to do without them.
The couple leaves behind three children and seven grandchildren.
Cohen said both of her parents always worked and did everything together. His mother, Annie, was an Alberta government official for 40 years. His father, Jim, worked at MacEwan University, was a longtime member of the Rotary Club and the Downtown Business Association, and was a long-time manager of the downtown newsstand “Mike’s News.” They were both active and enjoyed skiing and windsurfing.
“They weren’t just old people riding bikes that day,” Cohen told CTV News Edmonton.
“They were driving from their house 20 kilometers across town to come see their grandchildren and we were talking to them daily,” Cohen said.
The driver of the car involved in the accident, Taylor Yaremchuk, was not injured. The 29-year-old was later charged with two counts of impaired driving causing death, impaired driving and possession of an illegal substance.
The charges have not been tested in court. Yaremchuk’s next court appearance is scheduled for September 21.
Cohen said his father was a careful rider.
“For this to be how they were taken is even more devastating because it didn’t need to happen,” she said.
In light of the accusations, Cohen and his brothers started a GoFundMe to raise awareness and money for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
“Accidents happen, but it’s not an accident to get into a vehicle while you’ve been drinking,” Cohen said.
A celebration of life for Jim and Annie McDonald will be held August 27 at 1 p.m. at MacEwan University.
Cohen said the need for a public service was clear.
“They touched more people than I even knew.”
With files from CTV Edmonton’s Jessica Robb