Andres Salek was eager to graduate from the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, and move on to a more practical role in the Canadian Army before he died in a tragic accident, his friend Denis Zvynka recalls.
“He always told me how excited he was about his next steps,” Zvynka said.
Salek was about to graduate with a degree in military and strategic studies, but early on April 29, Salek died.
A vehicle carrying him and fellow fourth-year officer cadets Jack Hogarth, Andrei Honciu and Broden Murphy entered the water shortly after 2 a.m. at Point Frederick, a peninsula that lies between Kingston Harbor and Navy Bay in the St Lawrence River.
The Canadian Forces National Investigative Service, the independent arm of the Canadian Forces Military Police, is investigating.
Zvynka, who met Salek during his freshman year of high school in the Etobicoke community west of Toronto, said he immediately texted his friend and then called him when he saw the news last week.
“None of the texts went through. I had a terrible feeling in my stomach. As time went on, it got worse and worse until I found out that I was actually one of the victims,” she said.
Friend admired his resistance
Zvynka and Salek bonded over sushi, beer and basketball, Zvynka said.
They also made the transition to Kingston together: Zvynka went to study at Queen’s University, Salek to the Canadian Armed Forces Military College, which has been awarding degrees since 1959.
Salek was preparing to become an armored officer, said Commodore Josée Kurtz, the university’s commanding officer.
According to the Canadian Armed Forces website, armored officers provide reconnaissance and direct fire support in battle from armored fighting vehicles such as tanks.
Zvynka called Salek a “selfless” friend who put the needs of others before his own.
“Now that he’s gone, it makes you remember those moments,” Zvynka said.
Zvynka also admired Salek’s resilience after the pair stayed late in Kingston.
“He would tell me, ‘By the way, I have to get up in three hours to drill.’ I never knew how he would do it, but the next morning he’d send me a picture or something and it was him at 6am by the lake. And there were still hours to wake up.”
Zvynka said that Salek had finished his fourth-year exams and was hanging out at the base. They made plans to meet in Toronto this summer.
“He was just a nice person. Without him, I feel like the average person’s niceness drops drastically.”
The university said details about a memorial service would be revealed at the discretion of the families of the victims.
On Monday, the House of Commons observed a moment of silence in memory of Salek and the other missing cadets.
Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Alex Ruff, a retired colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces, was among those who also made comments.
In it @OurCommons Today, I paid tribute to @RMCCanadaCMR Officer Cadets Jack Hogarth, Andrei Honciu, Broden Murphy & Andres Salek who tragically lost their lives last Friday. My deepest condolences & condolences to all families & friends. #RiP #TDV #so we don’t forget a> @rmc97reunion pic.twitter. com/sUQYKLNkTH