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'Too soon, too young, not fair'

Brent Reaney
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Mar 21/05) - It was "too soon, too young, and not fair," says Kevin Olson's father of his son's March 17 death while fighting a fire.

The 24-year-old died just 11 days after arriving in Yellowknife when the roof of a shed next to Home Building Supplies collapsed on him and firefighter Cyril Fyfe.

"His passion was to help people. He didn't want to be the hero. He wanted to make a difference in people's lives," said Brent Olson from his Calgary home.

"But he was definitely my hero."

He describes Kevin as strong, dedicated to his family, and someone who "loved life."

Working for the Yellowknife fire department was Kevin's first full-time job.

"He was very excited about it," Olson says. "He was making a commitment," adding that Kevin's wife Erica was expecting to join him in Yellowknife at the end of April after completing a nursing program.

With his wife and the rest of his family in Calgary, Brent says Kevin was lonely but still happy during his short time in Yellowknife.

With a love for the outdoors, Brent said Kevin told him he was looking forward to camping and fishing on his days off.

After graduating from Vermillion College with a 4.0 grade point average in 2003, Kevin went to work as a medic in the Alberta oil fields.

Wendy Nickson worked with Kevin at a Calgary restaurant for about a year prior to his acceptance at the college.

"Even then he knew what he wanted to do with his life," Nickson says of the Calgary Flames season ticket-holding hockey fan who rarely missed a game.

"This kid was driven."

With most of the family living in Calgary, the Olsons regularly gathered at Brent's house for a Sunday dinner.

On March 13, during Kevin's first Sunday away, the family passed the phone around so everyone had a chance to talk.

It was the last time father and son spoke. Olson's family plans to set up a memorial trust fund at TD Canada Trust in Calgary, said Yellowknife Fire Department Chief Mick Beauchamp.