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Fatal collision on Veterans Blvd. leads to tragedy for local family

By: Sara Wilson

  |  Posted: Thursday, Aug 29, 2013 12:03 pm

TRAGIC LOSS - Calgarian Lawrence Kamke (inset) was killed in this crash at Veterans Blvd. and Edmonton Trail, Aug. 22. The father and grandfather will be greatly missed, according to Airdrie family members.
TRAGIC LOSS - Calgarian Lawrence Kamke (inset) was killed in this crash at Veterans Blvd. and Edmonton Trail, Aug. 22. The father and grandfather will be greatly missed, according to Airdrie family members.
LUCAS PUNKARI/Rocky View Publishing

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In a tragic turn of events, a fatal collision on Veterans Blvd. on Aug. 22 has claimed the life of a beloved grandfather and has left one local family reeling.

Airdrie RCMP responded to a two-vehicle collision on Veterans Blvd. and Edmonton Trail at 3 p.m. on Aug. 22. Upon arrival at the scene, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) pronounced an elderly man - Lawrence Kamke, 80, of Calgary - deceased at the scene.

Five other people were transported to multiple hospitals in stable condition with non-life-threatening injuries.

Kamke was returning home from his son Chris’ family home in Airdrie, along with his other son Dan, who was driving the van at the time, and his two grandchildren when the collision occurred.

Alcohol is not considered to be a factor and the investigation is still ongoing, according to police.

“They had just left and within five minutes, no more than that, we were cleaning up and heard sirens. My brother called and said that there had been an accident,” Chris told the Airdrie City View via telephone from his home in Airdrie.

“I ran up there, I thought my father was badly hurt, the passenger side was severely crushed.”

Airdrie RCMP pulled Chris aside and explained the collision had been fatal for his father.

“I broke down,” Chris said. “I went to my niece and nephew to make sure they were alright. I ran home to get my cell and tried to get a hold of my wife.”

Chris’ wife, Nicole, had gone to the accident scene, but couldn’t get close enough, so returned home.

“He was in shock, he wasn’t himself,” Nicole explained.

“We gathered our thoughts for a couple minutes and went back to the accident site. We were there for four hours, we watched everything happen, and you know, dad is sitting in the van (the whole time).”

Kamke had been recovering from hip surgery and was on liquid oxygen at the time of the accident, and was “a fighter,” according to Chris and Nicole.

Kamke was born March 17, 1933 and grew up on the family farm in Manitoba. He moved to Alberta when he was in his early 20s.

“The best way to describe my father was a ‘jack-of-all-trades,’” Chris said.

“He was a carpenter before he retired with Windsor Plywood in Calgary, he built and designed bank vaults, was a big rig driver, built silos in the Arctic, help build malls and skyscrapers in Calgary, there wasn’t a hat that my dad didn’t wear.”

Kamke married his wife, Norma in 1971, who tragically passed away July 29, 2012 from a heart attack.

“They both left us tragically and suddenly,” Chris said. “We take some comfort knowing that he lived a full, colourful life.”

Kamke will be remembered as a great storyteller, according to Nicole.

Chris said he will also remember his dad for his love of animals. He recalled a story Kamke used to tell of “Snowball” the lovable ‘pet’ polar bear.

During his time in the Arctic, Kamke, along with others in the camp, helped befriend a young polar bear and was even brave enough to pet the notorious man-eater, said Chris.

“His outrageous stories about the places he’d been and animals and wildlife (will be missed),” Nicole said.

“The kids will miss him, there is so much to tell them.”

A funeral service was held Aug. 28 for family and friends in Calgary.

“We would like to thank the first responders, they were great to us, and the community for their thoughts and support,” Chris said.

Memorial tributes for Kamke can be made to the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Anyone with information on the accident on Aug. 22 is being asked to contact RCMP at 403-945-7200.


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