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Young mechanics uplift friend after arson tragedy

Three Langdon men came together to uplift a good friend and his family in their time of need.
From Left: Justin Wenstrom, Jason Stepp and Aidan Hopp from Langdon all put their mechanical skills to good use to help their friend in tragic family situation.

Three Langdon men came together to uplift a good friend and his family in their time of need.

The Goraya family lost everything when a tragic family situation led to arson and assault charges on March 4 on their acreage property near Highway 22X and 88 Street SE in Calgary.

Jamil Goraya, 23, of Calgary, was charged with one count each of aggravated assault and disregard for human life involving arson.

The incident left the patriarch of the family with severe burns and in hospital, and his son, Zackaria Goraya, without a vehicle to get to work.

Zackaria’s school friends, Aidan Hopp, Jason Stepp and Justin Wenstrom, just felt they wanted to do something to help. With the donated shell of a 2007 Ram 2500, a lot of elbow grease, and some extra parts and garage space donated by Wenstrom Equipment in Langdon, the three young, but experienced, mechanics saw a way to do just that.

Over three days during a weekend, the three came together to bring the old vehicle back to life to restore mobility to their friend.

“We had a good buddy who we knew through elementary school into high school, and we heard he was going through a bit of a tough time,” recalled Hopp. “And we had a truck that was just sitting around that we didn’t really need anymore. We pulled the truck into the shop on a Friday night and had the engine out that night. And by Sunday, we had a truck that was running and driving.”

Wenstrom said he always tries to help out his friends when they have mechanical difficulties with their vehicles, but the experience of helping Zackaria after the terrible tragedy his family had gone through took on an added significance for everybody involved.

“This was a really big project to take on, and we all helped and got it done relatively quickly,” confirmed Wenstrom. “We didn’t want him to go buy another truck before we got it done.”

The rebuild was challenging, admitted Wenstrom, but actually went fairly smoothly all in all.

“When we put the engine in late Saturday night, (which they had removed from a pick and pull auto wrecking yard earlier in the day), it fired right up. I didn’t have high hopes for that engine,” he said.

After getting the vehicle in working condition, Stepp recalled the moment when they brought Zackaria by to see it.

“The truck wasn’t quite done yet, but we still showed it to him,” said Stepp. “He didn’t really say much of anything. He was mostly speechless, and said a simple, ‘Thank you.’ And we had a big group hug.”

Stepp later drove Zackaria back to the burn unit in Calgary to see his father.

“They invited me in, and I saw his dad laying there,” Stepp recalled. “And his dad looked at me and gave a big smile, and wanted me to come hug him. He motioned between me and (Zackaria), and said ‘brothers.’”


Tim Kalinowski

About the Author: Tim Kalinowski

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