An Ontario man killed in a motorcycle accident in Mexico is being remembered as a happy, outgoing, big-hearted father of four who had a contagious, booming laugh and did all he could to help others in both countries in which he lived.
Shane King, 32, died Saturday night, shortly after colliding with the rear of a garbage truck in the El Canotal area of Isla Mujeres, where he lived half the year with his wife Amber King and their children Sydney, Quentin, Knox and Marz, ages 10, 8, 6 and 1.
Shane and Amber met in high school. He was from Sutton and she from the nearby Pefferlaw and the couple has been together since they were both 16. They had a wedding ceremony in the Dominican Republic in 2013 but officially got hitched in a Second Cup in Etobicoke, where they live half the year.
“We didn’t prepare any vows because we just assumed we would only have to sign some papers. That night, our vows to each other were ‘I promise to keep doing what I’ve been doing.’ That’s it short and sweet,” Amber wrote on Facebook after her husband’s death. “Those words have never meant more than now. At the hospital and then again yesterday when I identified him I promised to him out loud ‘I promise to keep doing what WE’ve been doing but I’ll do it better.’”
The family has spent part or all of the last four winters on the island just east of Cancun, said Amber in a phone interview with CTVNews.ca. They arrived for this season in November and planned to stay until the end of April.
“He was very giving. He always wanted to help people, whether financially or with his time or building things or helping people find the resources they need,” Amber said of her husband.
That spirit is being repaid to his family. A GoFundMe page has raised close to $47,000 of its $50,000 goal in just one day as of Monday afternoon.
“I dropped my phone when I saw it. It’s amazing,” said Amber. “I knew Shane had a lot of friends but how he affected so many people, I didn’t know.”
Oldest son Quentin was riding on the back of the bike with a helmet on when the accident happened. He is OK but sore, said Amber. She had left a downtown party about 15 minutes before her husband and son. Shane always took so long to leave a gathering because he loved to talk, she said.
“We were always late for everything because he was talking. It used to frustrate me because I’m quiet. But he was so outgoing.”
When a friend who left the party later arrived and Shane and Quentin hadn’t, they began to worry. Soon, a stranger was at the door saying there had been an accident. Local media said the garbage truck lacked tail lights and that both vehicles were seized for inspection by the attorney general’s office.
More than 30 people gathered at the hospital, said Amber, and the family’s 500-square-foot house has been jammed ever since. In the Mexican tradition after a death, the road outside the home has been closed off and tables and chairs brought in to allow for gatherings of loved ones.
Shane will be cremated in Mexico and friends are helping Amber arrange with Canadian officials to have his remains sent back to Canada. She will come back, as the couple had planned, on April 30. She hasn’t thought ahead to a memorial just yet.
“I’m sure he would want us to have a party. He was a fun guy. He wouldn’t want anything sad.”
Shane was so passionate about live music that summers in Canada were spent in a camping trailer travelling to music festivals. Penny Deming, a bar manager on Isla Mujeres, said an upcoming music festival will be held in Shane’s honour and will raise money to empower women on the island and teach them English.
“His incredible happy, giving spirit was so special. This same spirit is in all of your beautiful children. Together you all are so special. He always wanted to help, it didn’t matter what or who, he would be there,” she wrote.
Amber said Shane organized a fundraiser in Newmarket, Ont. five years ago after learning the daughter of a high school friend had cancer. He rented out a bar, arranged for bands to play and sold tickets, raising about $9,000. That event morphed into a summer camping party at his mother’s house near Kinmount that raised money for their kids’ school in Mexico. The couple frequently volunteered and contributed to the school.
Amber said Shane was a very involved dad but always let other people give her the credit for their great kids. She said the children are coping and friends and family are trying to keep them busy. But a new road lies ahead.
“I told them, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing. I need you guys to tell me what you need.’”
Many have taken to social media to express their grief, saying Shane loved fiercely, hugged deeply, looked upon his family with adoration and lived life to the fullest.
“This man welcomed you in as if he knew you forever. Never a dull moment with him, a gentle giant. Those in his circle will be deeply impacted by this loss... His sweet family will continue his legacy of love and acceptance and free spirit,” wrote Laurie Jansen.
“My prayers go out to the King family. Shane King was a man that could touch your heart the first time you meet him. When I go to the island, seeing he and his family always brought the biggest smile to my face. His ample amount of compassion set him apart from everyone else I have met on my travels. I believe he’s surrounded by the greats now, very comfortable where he is,” posted Johnny Bryant.
Wrote Matt Kneefe: “You are the measure of a man that all of us dads strive to be.”
“I think one of my favorite things about him was his desire to include everyone in anything that brought him joy. He just had a need to spread love & to see everyone enjoy themselves,” shared Courtney Williams-Barrieau.
Stephanie Thornhill Georgiou described his effect as: “Shanergy, that happy good vibe feeling one gets when they think about Shane or hear that voice of his...he makes people want to be good people.”