» Alberta's Track Community Mourns The Loss Of A Great Athlete & Friend
On Monday morning, the athletics community in Alberta found out the tragic news that we lost our young friend Isaak Kornelsen in a terrible tragedy while biking on Whyte Avenue. Our sincere condolences are with Isaak's family & his friends that knew him so well.
The memorial service for Isaak will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 1 at the McKernan Baptist Church (76 Avenue and 111 Street).
Cyclist killed on road remembered as ‘great runner and even better person’
By Mariam Ibrahim and Gemma Karstens-Smith, Edmonton Journal
Isaak Kornelsen stood out — on and off the track.
When he joined the Edmonton Thunder track and field club at the age of 14, it was obvious Kornelsen had a talent for running.
“Even at that age, people knew he was going to be pretty quick,” Edmonton Thunder president Dallas Raudebaugh said.
Intensely focused, Kornelsen pushed himself during practices and was a leader.
“He worked really hard. Probably one of the hardest working guys on the team, I’d say,” Raudebaugh said.
Kornelsen, 21, was killed Monday morning while cycling on Whyte Avenue after he hit the side mirror of a parked pickup truck, lost control and fell beneath a passing cement truck carrying a full load. Police said he died instantly.
After graduating from Strathcona Composite High School in 2009, Kornelsen went on to study philosophy at the University of Alberta and joined the school’s track team. On Tuesday, the team posted a tribute to Kornelsen on its Twitter page.
“We suffered a great loss today. Isaak Kornelsen was a great runner and an even better person. Forever we miss you,” the team wrote, attaching a photo collage of Kornelsen.
Raudebaugh said Kornelsen displayed terrific versatility in his running, a standout in both middle- and long-distance races. His specialty was the 800 metres, but he also ran the 10-kilometre race.
“Not many people can do that kind of range.”
Travis Gritter knew of Kornelsen before they met in Grade 12.
“He was one of those guys you hear about. Everyone loved this guy,” said Gritter, 20.
They hit it off after meeting in a class and started a philosophy club in school. Kornelsen was a thinker who loved to grapple with big ideas. It was no surprise when he graduated valedictorian, Gritter said. Everyone knew Kornelsen as a genius, accomplished in so many of his endeavours, yet humble about all of them.
His friends on Facebook have taken to quoting a line from his valedictory speech:
“See you all out there in the world. I’ll be looking for a waterfall to discover.”
The Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society installed a white ghost bike Monday next to the scene of the accident. By Tuesday, the memorial had grown to include notes, flowers, and a U of A track and field sweatshirt.
Cyclist Christal Ramanauskas didn’t know Kornelsen but visited the memorial after hearing of the accident.
“It’s every cyclist’s worst nightmare,” she said, adding parts of Edmonton, especially Whyte Avenue, are not cyclist friendly. On the block where the accident occurred, there are two lanes of traffic in each direction plus another for parked cars. On Monday, traffic investigators measured how far the pickup truck was parked from the curb, which appeared to be more than 30 centimetres. Vehicles must park no further than 50 centimetres from a curb under a city bylaw.
The accident spurred discussion on how to make roads safer for cyclists. The Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society says a separate bike lane on Whyte Avenue would go a long way in making cyclists feel safer. One block north, on 83rd Avenue, the city is planning a bike boulevard for 2014 or 2015.
Gritter said he believes Kornelsen would have been glad his accident has sparked a conversation about bike safety.
“It was something he was passionate about, and now this whole discussion is coming up around the city.”
Kornelsen’s death marked the 23 traffic fatality on city streets this year and the first involving a cyclist. His funeral is planned for Saturday.