Montreal Cyclist killed in B.C. was beginning cross-country ride

Dafne Toumbanakis

The young woman who was struck and killed while cycling through Maple Ridge this week was just starting out on what was intended to be a journey across the country.

Friends have identified the 24-year-old cyclist as Dafne Toumbanakis, a Montreal resident who was no stranger to long-distance bike trips.

"We travelled together by bicycle in South America, Central America, in Europe. She made a couple of trips by herself from Turkey to Poland, across countries like Serbia, Greece, Albania," her friend Sylvain Karpinski told CTV News from Montreal.

"It's crazy that she got killed in her own country, in the West Coast, which is bike-friendly."

Karpinski estimated it would have taken his friend about two months, or less, to make it across Canada had her trip not been cut tragically short on the very first day.

Toumbanakis had been living in Bogota and was taking international studies courses. She wanted to one day work with immigrants and refugees, Karpinski said.

"She was a person that really enjoyed life, enjoyed open space, trekking, biking, she was dancing Tango since six years ago," he added. "She was a super easygoing girl and she was a sweetheart."

Authorities said the young cyclist was hit by a Ford pickup truck on the Lougheed Highway at around 5:45 p.m. Monday. She was headed east when the pickup knocked her off her bike.

Witnesses tried to save her life, but she died at the scene.

Karpinski guessed that by that time of day, Toumanakis was likely just about ready to pull over and rest for the night.

The pickup driver, a 37-year-old man from Mission, remained at the scene and is co-operating with the police investigation, authorities said. Investigators do not believe drugs or alcohol are factors in the crash.

"Our hearts go out to the family and friends who lost a loved one today…we can't imagine what they are experiencing right now," said Const. Julie Klaussner in a news release.

"Please recognize that there are more people on the road, including cyclists, and we want to make sure everyone stays safe."

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