Opinion: U.S. friend of Burnaby cyclist anxiously awaiting criminal charges

Chris Campbell

Charles Masala has a lot of friends around the world.

Some of them have contacted me in the wake of his death after a driver struck the Burnaby resident while he was riding his bike on Gaglardi Way on June 30.

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They’ve told me about what an amazing person Masala was, from being a great husband and father to being a kind spirit who encouraged people to be the best they could be.

This week, I was contacted by Katherine (I’m keeping her last name private), one of Masala’s “Seattle contingent of friends.”

Katherine says it’s difficult waiting to see the results of the Burnaby RCMP investigation into Masala’s death, allegedly a hit-and-run involving alcohol, according to police.

She said she was “grasping at straws” for any information.

“It's difficult being so far away and also being so desperate for news or some sort of closure as to why and how this terrible tragedy took place - to know that there will be some kind of justice or accountability, whatever the circumstances may be,” Katherine said. “It's been a surprisingly long wait for any further word.”

It’s a good point that I had wondered about myself. It does seem to have taken a long time for charges to be laid.

Then again, I’m not a police officer so I contacted the Burnaby RCMP recently about the case. A police representative contacted the investigating officers and then reported back to me. I was told that the investigation was “ongoing” but there weren’t any specifics they could give me. That’s not surprising. Canadian police agencies are far more tight-lipped than American law enforcement.

What I was told was that these investigations are “complex” and the police are being painstaking in their approach. I would expect nothing else.

masala close up
A photo of Charles Masala was left at the memorial. CHRIS CAMPBELL PHOTO

To be clear, Katherine was not being critical of police. She was simply expressing her anxiety in awaiting the results of the investigation.

These cases are torturous for friends and family. The investigation takes time. If charges are laid, then the process to actually get into court takes even longer. Then there is the trial. If there is a conviction, then there is often an appeal and then if that fails, there is a sentencing hearing.

It’s a soul-destroying process.

While Masala’s family and friends await a police update, some are trying to do some good in his memory.

Five people will be doing the RSVP – the Ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party – a 188-mile journey. The riders are raising money for the Dwankhozi Hope project in Zambia that Masala founded. Masala was finally laid to rest in the last week of July in his home country of Zambia, on the grounds of Dwankhozi Community School, Katherine said.

If you are interested in finding out more about the project, you can click here.

If you want to donate to the RSVP riders in Masala’s name, click here.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.

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