Edson grieves for Mountie fatally struck while cycling

by Jonny Wakefield

The off-duty Edson Mountie killed by a motorist while riding his bike was an avid cyclist and volunteer, a community leader said Friday.

Const. Austin MacDougall was struck by a motorist while cycling on Range Road 181 west of the town about 9 p.m. Wednesday. RCMP members arrived on scene to find their fatally injured colleague, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

Kevin Zahara, vice-president of Edson Citizens on Patrol, said the group regularly worked with MacDougall.

"Const. MacDougall stood out," he said. "He was just such a positive, energetic guy. He was very easy to deal with, and I know he was well liked within the community. He was well respected."

The group brought food and condolences to the Edson RCMP detachment Thursday. He said MacDougall was the star of the show at the town's annual appreciation event for first responders.

He said MacDougall's wife lives on the East Coast.

"It's a very close knit group of emergency responders in our community, so it's been quite difficult," Zahara added.

The driver of the vehicle was arrested at the scene of the crash, RCMP said in a release.

Justin Lyle Jensen, 35, was charged with impaired driving causing death and refusing to comply with the demands of a peace officer. The investigation continues.

Zahara last spoke to MacDougall several weeks ago.

"Just the positive energy he had - it's going to be a huge loss for our community," he said.

Flags in Edson were lowered to half mast, the town said in a statement.

Edson (pop. 8,414) is about 200 km west of Edmonton.